Thursday, 12 April 2012 12:01
The Philippines filed on Wednesday a diplomatic protest against China over the incursion of eight Chinese fishing boats into the Scarborough Shoal and warned that, if challenged, the country was prepared “to enforce its sovereignty” over its territory.
Foreign Affairs Secretary Alberto del Rosario, in a press briefing, stressed that, “If the Philippines is challenged, we are prepared to secure our sovereignty.”
Del Rosario’s statement came after China on Wednesday accused a Philippine warship of illegally entering Chinese waters and ordered it to immediately leave the area.
The Chinese embassy in Manila said China reasserts its sovereign rights to the South China Sea, including the disputed area that is much closer to Philippine landmass.
The statement "urged the Philippine side to stop immediately their illegal activities and leave this area" as it insists it has sovereign rights to all of the South China Sea.
China calls the shoal Huangyan Island, and the Chinese embassy statement insisted the area belongs solely to China.
"The Chinese Embassy hereby reiterates that Huangyan Island is an integral part of the Chinese territory and the waters around it is the traditional fishing area for the Chinese fishermen," the statement said.
"Ever since the ancient times, numerous documents on the Chinese history have put down definitely in writing that Huangyan Island belongs to Chinese territory," the statement added.
The Philippines, on the other hand, claimed that, “The Shoal is 124 nautical miles from the nearest basepoint in Zambales province. It is within the Philippines’ 200 nautical miles Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) and Continental Shelf.”
A statement from the Department of Foreign Affairs said the confrontation happened two days after a Philippine Navy surveillance plane found the eight Chinese fishing boats anchored inside the Panatag (Scarborough) Shoal on April 8.
In an earlier statement, the DFA said to protect the marine environment and resources in the Panatag Shoal and to assert Philippine sovereignty and sovereign rights over the area as a responsible coastal state, the Philippine Navy deployed the BRP Gregorio del Pilar (PF-15) from Palawan to Northern Luzon waters on the same day to conduct maritime patrol over the Shoal.
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