China insists sovereignty over Panatag Shoal, Pag-asa Island amid Philippine coast guard drills

MANILA (AdChoiceTV News) — Beijing on Monday insisted that it has jurisdiction over the West Philippine Sea following maritime exercises of the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) in the area.

Last Saturday, ships of the PCG and the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) conducted maritime exercises near Panatag (Scarborough) Shoal or Bajo de Masinloc.

Coast guard vessels have also been deployed near Pag-asa (Thitu) Island for their interoperability training.

The Chinese foreign ministry, however, called on the Philippines to stop such actions.

Wang was referring to Panatag Shoal, which the Chinese call Huangyan Island, and Pag-asa Island, which they call Zhongye Island, where the PCG recently conducted drills.

Panatag Shoal is a traditional fishing ground off the coast of Zambales while Pag-asa Island is under the jurisdiction of the municipality of Kalayaan in Palawan.

“We urge the relevant side to respect China’s sovereignty and rights and interests, and stop actions complicating the situation and escalating disputes,” Wang said.

In a media release, the PCG said the exercises were intended to intensify their training on navigation, small boat operations, maintenance and logistical operations.

BRP Gabriela Silang (OPV-8301) and BRP Sindangan (MRRV-4407) were deployed to Panatag Shoal while BRP Cabra (MRRV-4409), BRP Malapascua (MRRV-4403) and coast guard-manned BFAR were sent to Pag-asa Island.

“We are supporting the whole-of-nation approach in securing our maritime jurisdiction, especially the efforts of the National Task Force for the West Philippine Sea (NTF-WPS) to undertake maritime security, maritime safety, maritime law enforcement, maritime search and rescue, and marine environmental protection roles in our country’s waters,” PCG spokesperson Commodore Armand Balilo earlier said.

On April 21, the Department of Foreign Affairs filed two more diplomatic protests against the continuing presence of at least 160 Chinese fishing vessels and maritime militia vessels in the West Philippine Sea.

The new protests were in addition to the daily protests that the DFA files for every day that Chinese ships remain at Julian Felipe (Whitsun) Reef.

Reporting by Albert Rovic Tan

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