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Philippines Demands China Stop Harassing Its Ships in South China Sea

The Philippines has summoned the Chinese ambassador in Manila, Huang Xilian, to protest naval incidents over the weekend and to demand Beijing stop harassing Philippine ships in the South China Sea, the government said Tuesday.

Philippine Deputy Foreign Minister Theresa P. Lazaro lodged the verbal protest with Huang on Monday after Chinese vessels on Sunday used water cannons against Philippine ships carrying supplies to a naval detachment on the Ayungin shoal.

According to a Philippine Foreign Ministry statement Tuesday, Lazaro said the supply runs in Ayungin were conducted within the Philippines’ exclusive economic zone (EEZ) under international law.

“The actions of Chinese vessels within the Philippine EEZ are illegal and violate freedom of navigation,” the note said.

Lazaro also criticized another incident on Saturday, when Chinese vessels also used water cannons against Philippine ships carrying fuel and supplies for fishermen near the Mansiloc shoal (also known as Scarborough Shoal).

The ministry called on Beijing to stop harassing its vessels in Philippine exclusive waters and to respect international law and the Hague Court of Arbitration’s 2016 decision.

The international tribunal ruled in favor of Manila in its sovereignty dispute against Beijing over the Mansiloc shoal, but the Chinese government has so far failed to abide by the decision.

The Chinese Coast Guard said on Sunday that its vessels had acted legitimately and professionally in the face of what it considered the violation of its sovereignty by Philippine vessels.

Beijing has historical claims to almost the entire South China Sea, but the Permanent Court of Arbitration upheld Manila’s claim against the Chinese authorities’.

In addition to China and the Philippines, other countries including Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei and Taiwan also claim parts of the South China Sea.

Some 30 percent of global trade flows through the South China Sea, which includes the Paracel and Spratly archipelagos, while it is home to 12 percent of the world’s fishing grounds, as well as oil and gas fields. EFE