Tensions rise in the South China Sea

Image: Philippine Coast Guard.

Philippines sends fighters to monitor Chinese militia vessels.

The Philippines has sent fighter planes to monitor the large flotilla of Chinese militia vessels that are anchored at Whitsun Reef, reports Reuters. The disputed waters have become a flash point in recent weeks as China sent more than 200 ships to the area which is claimed by Manila.

Concern is growing over what the Philippines describes as a “swarming and threatening presence” and the Philippines’ defence minister, Delfin Lorenzana, has demanded that China recall the vessels immediately.

He said: “We are ready to defend our national sovereignty and protect the marine resources of the Philippines. There will be an increased presence of the Philippine Navy and Philippine Coast Guard ships to conduct sovereignty patrols and protect our fishermen in the West Philippine Sea. The PAF deploys an element of AS-211 jet aircraft every day with the same mission.”

According to Manila, China routinely challenges its sovereignty in the South China Sea. The vessels are rafted together and according to Beijing are “sheltering from foul weather”. However, conditions in the area are currently benign.

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