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Wednesday, July 24, 2024

China’s monster ship faces off with PH vessel at Escoda shoal

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The massive China Coast Guard ship, dubbed “The Monster,” has been in a continued face-off with the Philippine Coast Guard’s BRP Teresa Magbanua at Escoda Shoal, the Philippines Navy said.

Philippine Navy spokesperson for the West Philippine Sea Rear Admiral Roy Vincent Trinidad, quoted by ABS-CBN News, said the presence of the 165-meter CCG vessel 5901 in Philippine waters is already “illegal” because it already stayed at the atoll.

The ship in recent weeks conducted patrols in the Philippine waters, but was described by Trinidad then as part of innocent passage and freedom of navigation, recognized by the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS).

“Wherever they go within our EEZ, their presence is illegal,” Trinidad told reporters.

The massive ship is just hundreds of meters away from the 97-meter multi-role response vessel (MRRV) BRP Teresa Magbanua, the Philippine Coast Guard’s most expensive vessel and one of its largest ships. The vessel was deployed to Escoda in April to monitor Chinese activities over suspected reclamation works in the area.

China has maintained its presence in Philippine waters with the deployment of 94 vessels, mostly in Ayungin Shoal, Pag-asa Island, Panata Island, and Bajo de Masinloc, from July 2 to July 8

China defended its deployment of the massive ship and asserted that the Escoda Shoal where it anchored is part of its “nine-dash-line claims” and not the Philippines’ exclusive economic zone. 

“To patrol and conduct law enforcement activities by Chinese military and Coast Guard vessels in the waters near Xianbin Jiao is within China’s domestic law and international law, including UNCLOS,” Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Lin Jian added in the press conference. 

Earlier, China refused to take responsibility for the damages following the aggressive actions and harassment by the China Coast Guard against Philippine Navy troops during a resupply mission at Ayungin Shoal.

Rejecting the AFP’s demand for P60 million in damages, China asserted that the Philippines should “face the consequences of its own action.”

Japan earlier continued to oppose the “unlawful maritime claims” and strongly condemned China’s dangerous and aggressive acts against the Philippines during the 2+2 Foreign and Defense Ministerial Meetings with the Philippines. 

The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) together with the Philippine Coast Guard meanwhile reported that it had successfully carried out the emergency medical evacuation of a Philippine Navy personnel stationed at BRP Sierra Madre in Ayungin Shoal on July 7. 

The Coast Guard deployed their vessels, BRP Cabra (MRRV-4409) and BRP Cape Engaño (MRRV-4411), to rendezvous with the Rigid Hull Inflatable Boat (RHIB) of LS-57 in the vicinity of Ayungin Shoal. 

The PCG faced numerous obstructing and delaying maneuvers by CCG vessels, but they remained steadfast to their humanitarian mission and was able to complete the transfer of the sick personnel from the LS-57 RHIB to the PCG RHIB. 

Despite the threatening presence of various CCG small vessels, the PCG RHIB was able to return to the main PCG vessel without further interruption.  The sick personnel was then provided with urgent medical attention. The personnel is now stable.

Editor’s Note: This is an updated article. Originally posted with the headline China asserts ‘illegal claims’ in Escoda Shoal mid deployment of ‘Monster Ship’

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