Philippines warship in stand-off with China
Wednesday 11 April 2012
The Philippines said today its largest warship was engaged in a tense stand-off with Chinese surveillance vessels at a disputed South China Sea shoal.
The confrontation came after the ship attempted to arrest Chinese fishermen, but was blocked by the surveillance craft, the government said.
Foreign secretary Albert Del Rosario summoned Chinese ambassador Ma Keqing to resolve the dangerous impasse diplomatically.
Mr Del Rosario's office said the Scarborough Shoal "is an integral part of Philippine territory" and Filipino authorities would assert sovereignty over the offshore area.
The shoal lies off the north-western Philippine province of Zambales. China and the Philippines have been disputing ownership of the shoal, in addition to the Spratly Islands and other areas in the South China Sea.
Philippine foreign affairs spokesman Raul Hernandez said the situation at the shoal "has not changed as of this morning. There's a stand-off".
The Department of Foreign Affairs said that on Sunday, a Philippine navy surveillance plane sighted eight Chinese fishing vessels anchored in a lagoon at Scarborough, prompting the military to deploy its largest warship, the BRP Gregorio del Pilar, which was recently acquired from the United States.
Yesterday Filipino sailors from the warship boarded the Chinese vessels for an inspection, discovering large amounts of illegally collected corals, giant clams and live sharks inside the first boat, the department said.
Two Chinese maritime surveillance ships, identified as Zhonggou Haijian 75 and Zhonggou Haijian 84, later approached and positioned themselves between the Philippine warship and the Chinese fishing vessels "thus preventing the arrests of the erring Chinese fishermen", the statement said.
Mr Del Rosario protested to Ms Ma and told her that the Philippine navy would enforce Philippine laws, according to his office.
The Chinese embassy in Manila did not immediately comment.
Chinese officials, who refer to Scarborough Shoal as Huangyan Island, have in the past asserted Chinese sovereignty over the area.
The Philippines refers to the shoal, a rich fishing ground, as Panatag.
Last year the Philippines accused Chinese vessels of intruding into other parts of what it considers Philippine territory near the South China Sea, including the Spratlys. China has regularly dismissed the protests, saying Beijing has indisputable sovereignty over those areas on historical grounds.
The Spratly Islands south of Scarborough Shoal are claimed by China, the Philippines, Vietnam, Brunei, Malaysia and Taiwan. The chain of barren islands, reefs and coral outcrops are believed to be in rich in oil and gas and the overlapping claims have long been feared as Asia's next flashpoint for armed conflict.
The United States, a defence-treaty ally of the Philippines, last year provided the Philippine navy with a refurbished coastguard cutter as part of efforts to shore up its naval defences.
Washington has insisted it takes no sides in the territorial dispute but says it should be solved peacefully. China has balked at what it considered a US interference in the region.
The disputes over the resource-rich Spratlys have settled into an uneasy stand-off since the last major clash involving China and Vietnam killed more than 70 Vietnamese sailors in 1988.
Faced with China's formidable military, the Philippines and Vietnam have forged closer ties.
Aside from military accords, the two countries agreed to set up a hotline between their coastguards and maritime police to monitor maritime incidents, such as piracy and incursions into their territorial waters.
Philippine navy chief Vice Admiral Alexander Pama said Philippine and Vietnamese sailors agreed to play football and basketball matches in the islands they occupy in the Spratlys in a novel way to build trust in the contested region.
International Women's Day 2014: The shocking statistics that show why it is still so important
Feminist quotes to inspire you on the International Women's Day
Oscar Pistorius trial first week: Never mind a media scrum – murder case becomes bizarre safari following the tracks of a wounded lion
International Women’s Day: 'When a man gives his opinion, he's a man. When a woman gives her opinion, she's a bitch' - feminist quotes from female icons to inspire you
Malaysia Airlines plane: Oil slick is first sign that missing flight crashed into sea killing up to 239 on board
Britain's top vet sparks controversy with call for ban on slashing animals' throats in 'ritual' slaughters for halal and kosher meat products
Ukraine crisis: Russia dismisses '3am ultimatum' as 'total nonsense'
If you're horrified by a flame-roasted dog, you should be shocked at a hog roast
Poor 'live like animals' says Boris's privately educated sister after going on 'poverty safari'
White people become less racist just by moving to more diverse areas, study finds
Exclusive: Impact of immigrants on British workers ‘negligible’
- 1 To those who can’t see the point of International Women’s Day: you are the very reason it exists
- 2 International Women's Day 2014: The shocking statistics that show why it is still so important
- 3 Saudi preacher who 'raped and tortured' his five -year-old daughter to death is released after paying 'blood money'
- 4 Orgasm machine to deliver climax at the push of a button
- 5 Liam Neeson turned down James Bond role because late wife Natasha Richardson said she wouldn't marry him if he took it
£12000 per annum: Inspiring Interns: A small but growing chain of boutique hot...
£12000 per annum: Inspiring Interns: The company works with Tier 1 FTSE 100 Ba...
£45 - 60k Per Annum: Charter Selection: Highly profitable leisure brand, marke...
£30000 - £50000 per annum + Highly Competitive Salary: Austen Lloyd: Residenti...