China plans to further occupy South China Sea ‘features’: Philippines Defence Chief

Amid growing aggressiveness of China in international waters, the Philippines’ defence chief DelfinLorenzana on Sunday said the continued presence of Chinese maritime militias around the WhitsunReef reveals their intent to further occupy features in the West Philippine Sea.“The continued presence of Chinese maritime militias in the area reveals their intent to furtheroccupy features in the West Philippine Sea. They have done this before at Panatag Shoal or Bajo deMasinloc and at Panganiban Reef brazenly violating Philippine sovereignty and sovereign rightsunder international law,” Lorenzana said in a statement.“China should respect Philippine sovereignty over the Kalayaan Islands (Spratly Islands), and itssovereign rights over its Exclusive Economic Zone as defined by UNCLOS and affirmed by the arbitralaward,” he added.On Saturday, Lorenzana had called out China to explain why there are 44 Chinese ships massed inthe Julian Felipe Reef (Whitsun) in the South China Sea.Earlier this week, the White House in a statement said the National Security Advisors from the USand Philippines discussed their shared concerns regarding the recent massing of People’s ArmedForces Maritime Militia vessels at Whitsun Reef.Last month, the Philippines announced the deployment of additional navy ships to the South ChinaSea after over 200 Chinese vessels were spotted in the Whitsun Reef. Later, the Philippines also fileda diplomatic protest over the issue.On Monday, US Secretary Antony Blinken had come out in support of the Philippines after “China’smaritime militia” massed Chinese vessels at a boomerang-shaped Whitsun Reef in the WestPhilippine sea.

Tags: China, South China Sea, Philippines, Whitsun Reef, West Philippine Sea, US