MANILA, Philippines—More than 200 “likely Chinese” ships had been spotted inside the Philippines’ exclusive economic zone (EEZ) in the West Philippine Sea, a US-based satellite technology company said.
The number of ships inside Philippine EEZ increased from 129 to 238, or by more than 100 ships, from middle of May to June 17, the geospatial tech firm Simularity said.
At least 236 ships had been spotted in Pagkakaisa (Union) Banks in the same period.
Last March, the Philippine government sounded the alarm over the presence of more than 200 Chinese ships anchored on Julian Felipe (Whitsun) Reef, where Pagkakaisa Banks is located.
The number of ships near Gaven Reef in Tizard Bank, decreased from 234 to 71, Simularity said.
Eleven ships were seen near the Philippine-occupied Pag-asa (Thitu) Island.
The Philippine government has repeatedly protested China’s continued deployment of its vessels in the Philippines’ EEZ, but the protests had been ignored by the Chinese government.
Maritime expert Dr. Jay Batongbacal said the data released by Simularity only show that Chinese aggression in the area continued unabated.
“They just move around probably to avoid catching too much attention,” he said at an online event hosted by Pacific Forum.
“It is an indication that China’s intention to continue to flout the rules-based order that we have been trying to respect and trying to pursue,” he added.
Batongbacal said it was important to be always aware of what is going on in Philippine waters and how the rules-based order is being trashed by China.
“Hopefully, we will be able to come up with means and position, not only nationally, but also together with allies,” he said.
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