October 17, 2023
BEIJING – China once again claimed ownership of Pag-asa Island on Monday and denounced the Philippines for “illegally occupying” it.
“Zhongye Dao is China’s territory. The Philippines has illegally occupied Zhongye Dao, which seriously violates China’s sovereignty,” the Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson, Mao Ning, said in a press conference.
China calls Pagasa Island Zhongye Dao.
According to the AFP, the incident happened Friday last week (Oct. 13). It said a Chinese navy ship shadowed and attempted to cut off a Philippine navy vessel conducting a regular rotation and resupply mission near Pag-asa Island en route to Rizal Reef.
But on Monday, Mao said: “The Chinese warship’s navigation and patrol in the waters of Zhongye Dao is lawful and legitimate.”
Pag-asa is an island in the Kalayaan chain at least 285 nautical miles from Palawan. The Philippines has long established military and civilian presence in the area.
China’s sweeping 9-dash claim — now a 10-dash claim — over most of South China was already debunked in 2016 by the Permanent Court of Arbitration.
But in August 2023, China released a standard map with a 10-dash line, asserting its claim to a large part of the South China Sea, including the West Philippine Sea, which sits within the Philippines’ Exclusive Economic Zone.
The 10-dash claim extends to Taiwan and India’s northeastern state of Arunachal Pradesh and Aksai Chin region.