A squadron of Chinese boats invades an atoll in the Philippines

A squadron of Chinese boats invades an atoll in the Philippines

The Philippines confirmed today, Sunday, December 3, 2023, that two of its patrol boats counted A squadron of more than 135 boats Chinese, spread around Whitsun Reef (also called Julian Felipe), about 320 kilometers west of Palawan Island. Although this reef is located more than 1,000 kilometers from the Chinese island of Hainan, it is part of the Spratly Archipelago, which is claimed by China, the Philippines and several countries bordering the South China Sea.

The Philippine Coast Guard has already spotted 111 naval vessels Chinese naval militia In the region on November 13. This time, they counted more than 135. Radio calls made by the Philippine Coast Guard were not answered “Manila says.

A precedent in 2021

In 2021, about 210 Chinese vessels have already been stationed near Whitsun Reef for several weeks. Beijing claimed that these were fishing boats sheltering from bad weather… In fact, The Chinese Navy has armed a small fleet of hundreds of fishing boats Who have the task of policing and defending its coasts. In Beijing’s mind, this includes the Spratly Islands.

The area claimed by Beijing in the South China Sea. | Western France

The area claimed by Beijing in the South China Sea. | Western France

China claims sovereignty over almost the entire South China Sea, including waters and islands near the coasts of its neighbors, for military reasons but also because it is believed to be rich in oil. Beijing ignored an international court ruling in 2016 that this claim had no legal basis. In addition to deploying its police fleet, China is building military artificial islands to strengthen its positions.

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The Philippines, supported by the United States, announced on Friday the establishment of a coast guard station on Thitu, the largest island it controls in the South China Sea, to enhance monitoring of Chinese ships. This station will be equipped Advanced systems National Security Advisor Eduardo Ano said this equipment includes radar, satellite communications, coastal cameras and maritime traffic management systems.

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