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‘The DFA condemns dangerous maneuvers’ by the Chinese Coast Guard in the WPS.

China’s recent “highly dangerous maneuvers” against the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) in the waters off Ayungin Shoal drew criticism from the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) on Friday.

Foreign Affairs spokesperson Ma. Teresita Daza repeated Manila’s request in a statement that Beijing observes its obligations under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) regarding the West Philippine Sea.

“I want to highlight that the Philippines has the legal authority to conduct routine marine patrols in our exclusive economic zones (EEZ) and territorial waters. She claimed one such mission was the BRP Malabrigo and BRP Malapascua’s deployment in the West Philippine Sea from April 18 to 24.

According to the PCG’s report on Friday, two Chinese Coast Guard (CCG) warships “intercepted” them near Ayungin Shoal. On April 23, CCG vessels 5202 and 4201 engaged in “aggressive tactics” toward Malapascua and Malabrigo, respectively.

A team from Agence France-Presse (AFP) on board the Filipino boat claimed that the Chinese ship engaged in “dangerous maneuvers” as it approached BRP Malapascua from within 50 yards, which led to a “near-collision.”

According to the DFA, similar maneuvers were seen on April 19 between the CCG 5201 and 4202 and the BRP Malapascua as the latter was making its way to Ayungin Shoal.

“The China Coast Guard’s interference with this routine patrol mission was inconsistent with freedom of navigation, and several documented incidents also involved highly dangerous maneuvers that were contrary to standard navigational practices,” Daza added.

“We again call on China to respect the Philippines’ rights over the West Philippine Sea, as provided by UNCLOS, and refrain from actions that may cause an untoward incident,” she continued.

According to the Chinese Foreign Ministry, Manila’s “premeditated and provocative action for the Philippine vessel to barge into the waters of Ayungin with journalists on board” led to the close call.

The AFP quoted an official from the ministry as stating on Friday that the claimed act was intended “to find fault deliberately and take the opportunity to hype up the incident.”

According to Daza, regular patrols in Philippine territorial seas are “neither premeditated nor provocative.”

He said we have exercised and will continue exercising a legal right.

On the day of the event, China informed the agency about the reported near-miss via the recently created communication channel for maritime concerns.

On April 23 at 5:56 pm, a focal point from the Chinese Foreign Ministry placed the call.

Daza said, “Our side informed China that it was a routine patrol and that we have every right to conduct such an activity.”

Seven nautical miles (NM) from Pag-asa Island, the PCG also reported that a Chinese People’s Liberation Army Navy ship with the bow number 549 “crossed paths” with its ships.

On April 21, the Chinese gray ship radioed the PCG warships to dispute their presence, and when they refused, they were told to depart because it may “cause a problem.”

Ayungin Shoal is 105 nautical miles off Palawan and within the nation’s 200NM EEZ. Pag-asa Island, also known as Thitu, serves as Kalayaan, the political capital of Palawan.

A coastal state has “sovereign rights” under UNCLOS to explore and utilize resources within the EEZ.

The most recent development follows Chinese Foreign Minister Qin Gang’s April 22–24 working visit to Manila. He had a meeting with Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr.

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