The Chinese Embassy in Manila said that there are no maritime militia from their country at Julian Felipe Reef.
“The Chinese Embassy has taken note of the perplexing statement by Philippine Defense Secretary on Chinese fishing vessels around Niu’e Jiao in the South China Sea. We would refer him to the statement released by spokesperson of the Chinese Embassy on the presence of alleged Chinese ‘maritime militia vessels’ at Niu’e Jiao on 22 March 2021,” the statement by the spokesperson of the Chinese Embassy stated, referring to Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana.
The Chinese Embassy said Niu’e Jiao is part of China’s Nansha Islands, adding that the waters around the area has been a fishing ground for Chinese fishermen.
“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,” it added.
The embassy further said China is committed to peace and stability in the South China Sea.
“We hope that authorities concerned would make constructive efforts and avoid any unprofessional remarks which may further fan irrational emotions,” the Chinese Embassy said
Lorenzana on Saturday sought the immediate departure of the remaining Chinese ships from Juan Felipe Reef, saying they have no reason to stay there.
Lorenzana said the continued encroachment demands a serious explanation from the Chinese envoy to the Philippines.
“The Chinese Ambassador has a lot of explaining to do. As of our latest maritime and aerial surveillance, there are still 44 Chinese vessels that are in Julian Felipe Reef,” he said.
He said he is not a fool since the weather has been good so far hence, the ships have no other reason to stay there.
“These vessels should be on their way out. Umalis na kayo diyan (Leave now),” he said in a statement.
The National Task Force for the West Philippine Sea earlier expressed concern over a Philippine Coast Guard report that about 220 Chinese fishing vessels, believed to be manned by Chinese maritime militia personnel, were sighted in line formation at the Julian Felipe Reef on March 7.The reef is located approximately 175 nautical miles west of Bataraza, Palawan. SOVEREIGNPH