The Philippines have filed two protest notes to the Chinese Embassy in Manila over alleged boat ramming and illegal fishing in the disputed South China Sea area, some 150 miles from the Philippine island of Luzon.
The Department of Foreign Affairs Republic of the Philippines said it received a report from the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) that three Philippine-flagged fishing vessels were ”intentionally rammed” by a Chinese Coast Guard vessel on January 29 in Bajo de Masinloc.
The PCG also reported that on January 22, at least twenty-four Chinese Utility Boats were seen collecting giant clams in the lagoon of Bajo de Masinloc.
”China’s toleration of, and active support for, the environmentally harmful fishing practices by its nationals at Bajo de Masinloc constitute breaches of its obligations under the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), the Convention on Biological Diversity and the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES),” said DFA.
China’s Foreign Ministry reacted strongly to the accusations, saying that several Philippine fishing vessels were ”illegally lingering” in Chinese waters.
“China’s coast guard sent a dinghy to drive them away and slightly bumped one of the fishing vessels,” said Hong Lei, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman, during a daily news briefing.
China claims 90% of the South China Sea based on a 1947 map, which was recently updated to a so-called nine-dash line, stretching down some 1,120 miles south from the Scarborough Shoal, which the Chinese call Huangyan island.
The line includes areas also claimed by the Philippines, Brunei, Taiwan, Vietnam, and Malaysia.