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China rejects Philippine protest
Publication Date : 25-02-2014
The Chinese embassy rejected the protest of the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) on the incident where Chinese ships fired water cannons against Filipino fishermen in a disputed shoal within the Philippines 200 nautical mile exclusive economic zone.
“The Chinese side does not accept the so-called ‘protest’ by the Philippines side,” Chinese Embassy spokesman Zhang Hua said in a text message to reporters.
“China has indisputable sovereignty over the South China Sea Islands and their adjacent waters, Huangyan Island (Bajo de Masinloc or Panatag/Scarborough Shoal) included. Chinese government vessels are conducting regular patrols within China’s jurisdiction,” he said.
On Tuesday, the DFA summoned the charge d’affaires of the Chinese Embassy to “strongly protest the acts of harassment” against Filipino fishermen that occurred last January 27.
In 2013, the DFA has received reports that there have been nine other incidents of harassment by the Chinese Coast Guard against Filipino fisherman at the shoal.
“The DFA strongly protests the acts of harassment and the manner by which these were committed by China to forcefully drive away Philippine fishing vessels from Bajo de Masinloc,” Hernandez said.
“The DFA vehemently protests the acts of China when its law enforcement vessels drove away Philippine fishing vessels seeking shelter in the Philippines’ Bajo de Masinloc during inclement weather,” he said.
Panatag Shoal, which is 220 kilometres off Luzon island, has been the site of a standoff between Chinese and Philippines ships in 2012.
Chinese fishing vessels were found illegally poaching endangered and endemic Philippine marine species in the shoal but Filipino authorities were prevented from apprehending them after CCG ships blocked the entrance to the shoal.
China claims the entire South China Sea as its territory including the shoal which is around 650km from Hainan Island, the nearest major Chinese landmass.
The United Nations Convention on the Laws of the Sea (UNCLOS) mandates a 200-nautical mile exclusive economic zone from a nation’s coastline over which it has the sovereign right to exploit resources within.
The Philippines has a pending arbitration case against China’s “indisputable, excessive, and illegal claims” before the UN permanent court of arbitration.