The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) on Wednesday filed two diplomatic protests against China over its recent activities in the West Philippine Sea that violated both international law and Philippine sovereignty.
“At 5:17 pm today the Chinese embassy received 2 diplomatic protests: 1. on the pointing of a radar gun at a Philippine Navy ship in Philippine waters and 2. declaring parts of Philippine territory as part of Hainan province,” Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. wrote on Twitter.
A government official told The Associated Press that a Chinese navy ship pointed its “fire control radar” at a Philippine navy ship off Commodore Reef in the Spratlys in mid-February. The official said the radar is used to lock weapons on a target before an actual attack.
Another official said that although the Chinese ship did not fire at the Philippine ship, its action was “very hostile” and “unprovoked.”
The two officials refused to reveal their identities as they were not given authority to discuss the incident in public. The Chinese officials, meanwhile, did not provide an immediate comment on the Chinese navy ship’s action.
DFA files protests vs China’s recent moves in West Philippine Sea
China recently announced the establishment of a Chinese district to govern the reefs and islands of Spratlys. It also said “a district government” would be put up on the Fiery Cross Reef.
China recently launched two research stations on two of its large human-made islands in the West Philippine Sea — Kagitingan (Fiery Cross) and Zamora (Subi) Reef, Chinese news agency Xinhua reported on March 20.
The Philippines and China, along with Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei, and Taiwan, had a decades-long territorial conflict in the South China Sea. Oil and gas deposits were discovered in several areas of the disputed islands.
“China created Nansha district under the jurisdiction of Sansha City, akin to something we already protested in 2012. Old hat but bears repeating the protest,” Locsin added.
Two weeks ago, the Philippine government stood with Vietnam after a Chinese ship sank a fishing boat from Vietnam in disputed South China.
The DFA said it was “crucial” that such incidents be avoided as these “undermine the potential of a genuinely deep and trusting regional relationship” between China and Southeast Asian nations.