The Chinese Embassy in Manila called Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana’s statement “perplexing” after the Philippine secretary insisted that Chinese ships believed to be civilians used by their army should leave Julian Felipe Reef.
According to China, Julian Felipe Reef is part of their historical claim according to their nine-dash line map, even though the area is part of the Philippine exclusive economic zone under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea.
Julian Felipe Reef, called Niu’e Jiao by the Chinese is located 175 nautical miles from Bataraza, Palawan.
“China is committed to safeguarding peace and stability in the waters and we hope that authorities concerned would make constructive efforts and avoid any unprofessional remarks which may further fan irrational emotions,” stated in the statement of the Chinese embassy.
According to China, Julian Felipe Reef is part of their Nansha Islands or Spratlys in the South China Sea, and it used to be fished by the Chinese and sheltered by their ships during bad weather.
China insists Julian Felipe Reef is theirs
“The Chinese fishermen have been fishing in the waters for their livelihood every year. It is completely normal for Chinese fishing vessels to fish in the waters and take shelter near the reef during rough sea conditions. Nobody has the right to make wanton remarks on such activities,” China insisted.
Earlier, Lorenzana said the remaining 44 Chinese vessels should leave Julian Felipe Reef.
“I am no fool. The weather has been good so far, so they have no other reason to stay there. These vessels should be on their way out. Umalis na kayo diyan,” Lorenzana said of the Chinese ambassador’s explanation that the ships were hiding in the area due to bad weather.
Last month, the Philippine government has filed a diplomatic protest after more than 200 Chinese ships were spotted near a reef within the country’s exclusive economic zone (EEZ) in the West Philippine Sea.
The National Force of the Philippine Fishermen’s Movement (PAMALAKAYA) has also condemned this alleged “blatant military aggression” by China