South China Sea: Tensions ERUPT as Beijing vessels spotted in Philippines territory


THE South China Sea dispute has flared up yet again as the Philippines coast guard has confirmed it spotted a People’s Liberation Army Navy warship just seven to twelve nautical miles away from the hotly disputed Scarborough Shoal.

As reported by The Diplomat, Philippine Coast Guard spokesman Commander Armand Balilo confirmed the sighting on Monday. The vessel was joined by two ships grin the China Coast Guard and two ships with the wartime militia, usually fishing vessels carrying irregular forces. The shoal is covered by both Philippine and Chinese claims on the South China Sea, with the Taiwanese claims also encompassing it.

Since 2012, Beijing and Manila have been at a standoff with Chinese forces regular sending vessels to patrol the water.

The former refers to the shoal as Huangyan Dao while the latter refers to it as Panatag Shoal (Filipino) or Bajo de Masinloc (Spanish).

The sighting comes in the backdrop of increasing Chinese activity near Pag-asa Island, the largest Philippine outpost in the region in recent months.

The Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte demanded China “lay off Pag-asa” shortly after US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo pledged the US would protect the island nation “any armed attack” took place in the South China Sea.