DFA summons Chinese official for ‘harassing’ research vessel

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(File photo)

MANILA – A senior Chinese embassy official has been summoned by the Philippine government over the China Coast Guard’s (CCG) “harassment” of a Taiwanese vessel conducting research with Filipino scientists on board in the South China Sea .

The Foreign Office (FDFA) revealed on Tuesday that the official had been summoned on April 13.

“The Department summoned a senior official from the Chinese Embassy in Manila to protest CCG harassment on the RV Legend, which was conducting authorized Marine Scientific Research (MSR) activity with Filipino scientists on board,” he said in a separate statement. .

The presence of foreign coast guard vessels near the MSR was “not consistent with innocent passage” and “constitutes a clear violation” of Philippine maritime jurisdiction, the DFA said.

He did not provide further details but said the activity was led by the University of the Philippines-National Institute of Geological Sciences.

In a May 26 report, the Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative (AMTI) said the RV Legend was tracked by CCG vessel 5203 at a distance of two to three nautical miles while conducting searched about 60 nautical miles northwest of Luzon on March 24.

Taipei responded on March 25 by sending its own Coast Guard 5001 from Taiwan-occupied Pratas Island.

According to AMTI, Taiwan’s 5001 maneuvered to keep the Chinese vessel away from the RV Legend for the next two days, with the vessels “sometimes approaching within 1,000 meters of each other”.

Apart from that, he reported two separate incidents of CCG vessels challenging marine research and hydrocarbon exploration activities in the Philippines’ Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) in the South China Sea.

The DFA, for its part, confirmed the “presence of foreign coastguard vessels” around Reed Bank and in the vicinity of Philippine-approved activities around Service Contracts Nos. 75 and 72, carrying out activities inconsistent with the track of an innocent passage.

Detailed reports of these activities are being reviewed for the filing of appropriate diplomatic action, the FDFA said.

“The Department of Foreign Affairs notes that only the Philippine Coast Guard has jurisdiction over these waters. The presence of foreign vessels following tracks that are neither continuous nor rapid, which do not comply with UNCLOS Article 19 innocent passage, goes against the interests of the Philippines,” he said.

The agency assured the public that it continues to firmly defend Philippine interests as well as protect and preserve national security and territorial integrity.

“The Philippine Department of Foreign Affairs takes appropriate diplomatic action in the event of a violation of Philippine sovereignty, sovereign rights within our maritime jurisdiction,” he said. (NAP)

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