The Philippines Reports Four Chinese Vessels Tailing a Navy Ship.
The Philippines has reported an incident involving its navy ship, the BRP Andres Bonifacio, being tailed by two Chinese coast guard ships and two militia vessels near Mischief Reef in the South China Sea. The incident took place on Feb. 1, as the navy ship was conducting a patrol and search mission. According to Armand Balilo, a spokesperson for the Philippine coast guard, the Chinese vessels monitored and trailed the Philippine ship near the reef, which is within the Philippines’ 200-nautical mile exclusive economic zone. Balilo also stated that the militia boats “even conducted an intercept course.”
Recently, tensions between the Philippines and China have risen as China increases its presence in the South China Sea. This is reflected by the growing number of Chinese vessels appearing off the Philippines’ west coast, including instances of Chinese ships trailing Philippine fishing vessels and intercepting them in contested areas. This incident near Mischief Reef adds to the growing concern over China’s increasing patrols in the disputed sea.
President Ferdinand Marcos of the Philippines has declared in a January interview that the country will not abandon its territorial claims. Meanwhile, on February 2nd, during a meeting between US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and Philippine Defense Secretary Carlito Galvez, the two countries agreed to restart joint patrols in the South China Sea. The joint patrols were previously discontinued by former President Rodrigo Duterte in 2016.