The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) protested again on Thursday over the return of more than 100 Chinese warships to Julian Felipe Reef, a West Philippine Sea location.
The vessels were discovered operating unlawfully in the maritime waters of Julian Felipe Reef, a low tide elevation within the territorial sea of significant high tide features in the Kalayaan Island Group, including Chigua Reef, on April 4, 2022, according to the DFA.
Over 200 Chinese ships besieged Julian Felipe Reef in March 2021, provoking diplomatic protests from the Philippine government. According to reports, most of the vessels have departed the area, but a few remain.
The presence of Chinese vessels on the Julian Felipe Reef without permission is “not only illegal, but also a source of instability in the region,” according to the department.
“The persistent swarming of Chinese vessels is contrary to international law, including the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) and the final and binding 2016 Arbitral Award. It is also a violation of China’s commitments under the 2002
Over 100 Chinese vessels return to Julian Felipe Reef – DFA
Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea, in particular, the exercise of self-restraint pursuant to Paragraph 5 thereof,” the DFA said in a statement.
“The Philippines regrets this Chinese violation of international law days after the successful 08 April 2022 telesummit between President Rodrigo R. Duterte and Chinese President Xi Jinping where the two leaders reaffirmed their commitment to solve issues of mutual concern through peaceful dialogue, and exercise restraint in any and all endeavors relating to the South China Sea,” it added.
The DFA has urged China to follow international law and refrain from “illegal and irresponsible behavior” in order to avoid new maritime confrontations.
It also demanded that its ships leave the Philippine territorial seas immediately.
Following a dispute brought by the Philippines, the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague, Netherlands, dismissed China’s broad claims over the seas in 2016. However, the verdict is not recognized by Beijing.