55 Chinese ships spotted in West PH Sea

55 Chinese ships spotted in West PH Sea

Read this in The Manila Times digital edition.

AT least 55 different Chinese ships were spotted surrounding nine Philippine features in the West Philippine Sea (WPS), a ranking Navy official said Tuesday.

At a press briefing, Navy spokesman for the WPS Commo. Roy Vincent Trinidad said two China Coast Guard (CCG) vessels and 24 militia vessels were sighted in Bajo de Masinloc (Scarborough Shoal), while one vessel and five fishing ships were seen in Ayungin (Second Thomas) Shoal.

Trinidad also said they spotted a CCG ship and 19 militia vessels on Pagasa Island, two vessels on Panata Island and a People’s Liberation Army (PLA) navy vessel on Lawak Island.

Trinidad said the latest presence of Chinese ships within the country’s exclusive economic zone (EEZ) near Philippine-held features was documented on April 15.

He said some of the Chinese vessels were observed to be on patrol while the rest were stationary.

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On April 10, 45 Chinese vessels were seen in different parts of the WPS.

“Their activities have been varied; some of them would be lying to or stationary, while others would be moving, doing patrols,” Trinidad said.

At present, the situation in WPS is considered calm, with Chinese vessels not launching any aggressive moves against Philippine vessels patrolling the EEZ.

He said that aggressive Chinese operations against Philippine ships eased after the joint military exercises held by the US, Australia, Japan and the Philippines.

“If you look at the actions of China, they come in whenever there is a vacuum,” Trinidad said.

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