CHINA uses maritime militia “to intimidate, provoke, and threaten other nations, which undermines peace and security in the region”, the United States Embassy in Manila said on Tuesday.
The embassy said it shares the concern of the Philippines regarding the reported incursion of Chinese maritime militia in the West Philippine Sea (WPS).
The National Task Force on the WPS on Sunday reported that Chinese fishing vessels believed to be manned by Chinese maritime militia personnel were moored in line formation at the Julian Felipe Reef on March 7.
“Chinese boats have been mooring in this area for many months in ever increasing numbers, regardless of the weather,” the embassy said in a statement.
US Embassy Press Attache Heather Fabrikant said, “We have seen reports of the presence of more than 200 PRC (People’s Republic of China) fishing vessels amassing near Whitsun Reef.”
“We note Secretary of National Defense [Delfin] Lorenzana’s call for the PRCto recall the boats and Secretary of Foreign Affairs [Teodoro] Locsin’s filing of a diplomatic protest,” she said.
“We share the concerns of our Philippine allies. We stand with the Philippines, our oldest treaty ally in Asia,” Fabrikant stressed.
The Chinese embassy in Manila on Monday denied the alleged presence of Chinese maritime militia in the WPS.
In a statement, the Chinese embassy called the area as Niu’e Jiao which, it said, was part of China’s Nansha Qundao.
The embassy said that it “has taken note of the recent statement and remarks of the Philippine side on the presence of alleged Chinese maritime militia vessels at Niu’e Jiao.”
“Niu’e Jiao is a part of China’s Nansha Qundao. Chinese fishing vessels have been fishing in its adjacent waters for many years,” the embassy stressed.
It explained that “recently, some Chinese fishing vessels take shelter near Niu’e Jiao due to rough sea conditions”.