February 14, 2023
MANILA — The Philippines intruded into the maritime territory of China, the spokesperson of the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Wang Wenbin, said in a statement issued late Monday.
A day before the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) reported that a Chinese Coast Guard (CCG) ship harassed the crew members of its ship with a “military-grade laser” in the West Philippine Sea.
“The Ren’ai Reef is part of China’s Nansha Islands. On February 6, a Philippine Coast Guard vessel intruded into the waters off the Ren’ai Reef without Chinese permission,” Wang said.
“In accordance with China’s domestic law and international law, including the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), the China Coast Guard ship upheld China’s sovereignty and maritime order and acted in a professional and restrained way,” he added.
“We hope the Philippine side will respect China’s territorial sovereignty and maritime rights and interests in the South China Sea and avoid taking any actions that may exacerbate disputes and complicate the situation. China and the Philippines are in communication on this through diplomatic channels,” Wang said.
According to the PCG report, the threatened PCG ship was supporting the Philippine Navy’s rotation and resupply mission in Ayungin Shoal in the West Philippine Sea on Feb. 6.
The CCG then aimed a “military-grade laser” at the PCG ship, leading to the temporary blindness of its crew members.
The Philippines has sovereign rights in the West Philippine Sea in the South China Sea, based on the 2016 ruling of the Permanent Court of Arbitration.
China, which has a sweeping nine-dash line claim in the South China Sea, refused to recognize the arbitral ruling.
Since 2016 and until Jan. 26, the Philippines has filed 461 diplomatic protests against China’s intrusion into the West Philippine Sea.