By Andreo Calonzo
The Philippines’ Foreign Affairs Department on Monday said it protested China’s “shadowing, blocking, dangerous maneuver and radio challenges” on its Coast Guard that patrolled and trained last month in Scarborough Shoal — an area the Southeast Asian nation says is within its territory.
China’s claims over the shoal that’s 124 nautical miles from the Philippines “is without basis” and Beijing has “no law enforcement rights in these areas,” the department said May 3. The Philippines’ foreign ministry said it had also protested the “incessant, illegal, prolonged, and increasing presence” of China’s fishing vessels and maritime militia in its economic zones.
The latest remarks from Manila signal a further deepening of tensions with Beijing in the South China Sea. The Philippines has sent more vessels and held exercises in the contested waters, even as President Rodrigo Duterte said he won’t confront China. Beijing has said that its vessels’ presence in the area is normal and legitimate.
Scarborough Shoal is within the Philippines’ 200 nautical-mile exclusive economic zone, its government said, while it’s approximately 472 nautical miles from the nearest coast of China.
“The Philippines calls on China to withdraw its government vessels” around the Scarborough Shoal and the Kalayaan group of islands in the Spratly Islands, the foreign department said on May 3.
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