PHILIPPINE COAST GUARD

MANILA/BEIJING – A Philippine coast guard official on Thursday described as “inaccurate” its Chinese counterpart’s claim that a fisheries vessel “illegally intruded” into Beijing’s waters.

The Chinese coast guard said earlier on Thursday it drove away a vessel of the Philippines’ Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) and accused them of “illegally intruding” into its waters near Scarborough Shoal.

“This statement is inaccurate. The BFAR vessel, BRP Datu Sanday, continues to patrol the waters of Bajo De Masinloc. Currently, the BFAR vessel is actively ensuring the security of Filipino fishermen in that area,” Commodore Jay Tarriela, the coast guard’s spokesperson on South China Sea issues told reporters.

Located within the Philippines’ exclusive economic zone (EEZ), the Scarborough Shoal is also claimed by China, making it one of Asia’s most contested maritime features and a flashpoint for flare-ups.

China claims almost the entire South China Sea, a conduit for more than $3 trillion in annual ship commerce. Its territorial claims overlap with those of the Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia and Brunei.

In 2016, an international arbitration tribunal in the Hague said China’s claims had no legal basis, a decision Beijing has rejected. — Reuters