Malaya: China not in 'invasion mode' at Ayungin; Chinese ships already left | Inquirer News

Malaya: China not in ‘invasion mode’ at Ayungin; Chinese ships already left

/ 01:53 PM December 18, 2023

MANILA, Philippines — Chinese maritime militia vessels do not appear to be in an “invasion mode” at the West Philippine Sea (WPS), contrary to a maritime security think-tank’s assessment, National Security Council (NSC) Assistant Director General Jonathan Malaya said on Monday.

Malaya, during the Bagong Pilipinas Ngayon which he also hosts, clarified that reports from the ground stated that only one ship, a Chinese Coast Guard vessel bearing the number 5204, remained near the Ayungin shoal.

The NSC official’s remarks were in response to the “invasion mode” comment from retired US Air Force Col. Ray Powell, SeaLight Director at the Gordian Knot Center for National Security Innovation, who said on Thursday that at least 11 Chinese ships are inside the shoal, citing satellite images by Planet Labs.


“There was an article or statement from Ray Powell, retired Col. Ray Powell of the US Air Force […] that allegedly, Chinese vessels in Ayungin shoal are in ‘invasion mode’ because eleven Chinese Maritime Militia vessels were seen around or inside the shoal.  The National Security Council wants to dispute this,” Malaya said in Filipino.


“Because as of now — we are monitoring the situation, I got the latest report before going on air for our program — that the Chinese Maritime Militia has already left.  They already left as of yesterday’s report, and we were able to confirm it this morning; they all left, and as per our latest monitoring, the only one left is a Coast Guard Vessel, CCG-5204,” he added.

Malaya said he does not want to comment or preempt the observations made by Powell, but the actual reports from law enforcers and defense authorities on the ground indicate that such reports are not accurate.

“Because, of course, when people read the word ‘invasion mode,’ it sounded different.  Because it is also true that during our most recent meetings […] there were really a lot of Chinese ships there, around more than 40.  There are vessels from the Chinese Maritime Militia, the Coast Guard, and the Navy.  So when the vessels went inside the shoal, Ray Powell said it looked like an invasion,” Malaya said.

“Well, what he said was that it’s an invasion mode, highly unusual, it’s a show of force by Beijing.  I don’t want, of course, to make assessments with regard to their opinion, but if we’re talking about the facts on the ground, it’s not true that the Chinese are in invasion mode; in fact, they left, and there’s only one Chinese Coast Guard left in Ayungin shoal,” he explained.

Last Thursday, Powell — considered a maritime security expert — said that Chinese ships staged a rare “invasion” of Ayungin shoal in the WPS in a “calculated show of force by Beijing.”

The incident comes after Chinese Coast Guard vessels disrupted several Philippine resupply missions to Ayungin, where the Philippine Navy’s BRP Sierra Madre is beached.


READ: Chinese vessels at Ayungin seen in ‘invasion’ mode

But Malaya assured Filipinos that no such invasion happened, allaying the fears of those who might have read Powell’s analysis.

“To our fellow Filipinos concerned because this came out in the news, and in newspapers — that China is in invasion (mode) and might attack BRP Sierra Madre, we would like to […] dispel these reports,” he noted.

Several government officials have condemned China’s aggressive actions in the WPS, particularly its harassment of Philippine vessels.  Last November 10, Chinese Coast Guard vessels water cannoned their Filipino counterparts who were trying to resupply troops at BRP Sierra Madre.

While several attempts by the Chinese side to change the route of the resupply vessel failed, there have been other incidents in the past — including the ramming of a military-contracted resupply ship — where the Chinese Coast Guard aggressively tried to stop the resupply missions.

READ: China ships hit PH boats on resupply mission in West PH Sea

Ayungin shoal is well within the Philippines’ exclusive economic zone, but China claimed that a former administration promised to remove BRP Sierra Madre from the shoal.

Your subscription could not be saved. Please try again.
Your subscription has been successful.

Subscribe to our daily newsletter

By providing an email address. I agree to the Terms of Use and acknowledge that I have read the Privacy Policy.

President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. responded to this by saying that he has not made that agreement, and if such a deal exists, it has already been terminated.

TAGS: Ayungin, Ayungin Shoal, China, Jonathan Malaya

© Copyright 1997-2024 | All Rights Reserved

We use cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. By continuing, you are agreeing to our use of cookies. To find out more, please click this link.