Locsin 'considering a demarche' following China's claim on Julian Felipe Reef | Inquirer News
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Locsin ‘considering a demarche’ following China’s claim on Julian Felipe Reef

/ 02:26 PM April 04, 2021

AREA OF CONCERN Reports of close to 200 Chinese vessels swarming the Julian Felipe Reef, which lies within the Philippines’ exclusive economic zone, have sparked concern among countries such as the United States, United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, Japan, and France. —REUTERS

MANILA, Philippines — Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. said Sunday he is “considering a demarche” or a protest presented through diplomatic channels after China claimed the Julian Felipe Reef (Whitsun) in the West Philippine Sea as being part of its own territory.

“Oddly, if it is a strategy and not idiocy then swarming accomplishes nothing; they were doing this in consonance with claim of traditional fishing. Chinese were doing this in 1s, 2s and 3s,” he said over Twitter.

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“Coming and going fishing makes no claim of possession per se; it is only when Chinese embassy claimed the area as Chinese territory—as evidenced by the swarm—that it becomes problematic. Considering a demarche,” the country’s top diplomat added.

Earlier this month, Locsin also confirmed that the Philippines has filed a diplomatic protest after over 200 Chinese vessels were spotted in the Juan Felipe Reef.

The Chinese Embassy, however, denied that the ships were operated by its maritime militia personnel and added that it has been “normal practice” for Chinese fishing vessels to take shelter near the reef, which China calls “Niu’e Jiao.”

The embassy added that “Niu’e Jiao is part of China’s Nansha Qundao (Spratly Islands)” and that “Chinese fishing vessels have been fishing in its adjacent waters for many years.”

According to the embassy, some Chinese fishing vessels take shelter near the reef due to rough sea conditions.

Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana, however, said he won’t allow himself to be fooled by the Chinese government and again demanded the withdrawal of the vessels from the area.

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He said there were still 44 Chinese vessels at the Julian Felipe Reef.

In 2016, the international arbitral ruling invalidated China’s sweeping claims in the South China Sea.

/MUF
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TAGS: China, demarche, Julian Felipe Reef, South China sea, West Philippine Sea
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