Manila revealed on Tuesday that it had summoned a senior Beijing diplomat to protest alleged harassment of a maritime research ship by a Chinese coast guard ship in the territorial waters of the Philippines.
The State Department says it is reviewing reports of “the presence of foreign coastguard ships in the vicinity of Reed Bank,” the sinking of a Filipino fishing vessel in 2019 that has caused internal unrest.
The revelation came on the same day Manila said it had issued a separate diplomatic protest to mark Beijing’s “unilateral three-and-a-half-month fishing suspension” near the disputed Spratly Islands.
Manila and Beijing have long been embroiled in disputes over the South China Sea, in almost all of which China has insisted it has exclusive rights, rejecting the 2016 Hague ruling that its historic claims were baseless.
The State Department said on April 13 that it had “summoned a senior official from the Chinese embassy in Manila, who was conducting an authorized maritime scientific study” to protest the harassment over the RV legend.
The statement added that the department was reviewing reports about “the presence of foreign coastguard ships in the vicinity of the Reed Bank” near where Philippine companies are conducting oil exploration.
It added that the incidents were “a clear violation of the Philippine maritime jurisdiction.”
The Chinese embassy in Manila did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
In a separate statement on Tuesday, the department said it had renewed “protests against China’s annual practice of declaring fishing bans in areas beyond China’s legitimate maritime rights.”
Last week, the Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative (AMTI) reported that the RV legend had been tailed at close range by a coastguard ship northwest of the Philippine main island of Luzon.
Chinese ships harassed commercial and research ships on two more occasions last month, AMTI said, including a Philippine-garrison second near Thomas Shoal.
The think tank said Chinese measures were creating a “high risk of collisions at sea”.
The State Department said on Tuesday that there had been indefinite “illegal activity” and “diplomatic protests” in the vicinity of Thomas Shoal II, and that Chinese ships had also surrounded a Philippine coast guard ship in the area.
(This story was not edited by NDTV staff and was automatically generated from a syndicated feed.)