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Philippines strengthens security measures in South China Sea locations

Philippines strengthens security measures in South China Sea locations

Philippines strengthens security measures in South China Sea locations

Philippines strengthens security measures in South China Sea locations

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  • The decision comes amid reports of China’s reclamation activities, which Beijing denies.
  • The Philippine Coast Guard has deployed a ship to Sabina Shoal, accusing China of constructing an artificial island.
  • China’s foreign ministry dismisses Manila’s latest accusation as “groundless and pure rumor.”
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On Monday, the Philippines announced that it would enhance surveillance of reefs, shoals, and islets within its exclusive economic zone in the South China Sea. Reports of new reclamation activities by China prompted the decision, which Beijing denied.

On Saturday, the Philippine Coast Guard announced that it had deployed a ship to Sabina Shoal on the Spratly archipelago. It accused China of constructing an artificial island, citing documented piles of dead and crushed coral on the sandbars.

Jonathan Malaya, spokesperson of the National Security Council (NSC), stated that NSC chief Eduardo Ano had ordered a tighter guard at locations within Manila’s 200-nautical mile economic zone, as a long-standing diplomatic row with Beijing intensifies.

Malaya affirmed on a regular television program, “No one will guard these locations except us. It is our responsibility under international law to guard them and ensure that the environment there would not be damaged and that there won’t be reclamation activities.”

China claims almost all of the South China Sea, including parts claimed by the Philippines, Brunei, Malaysia, Taiwan, and Vietnam. It has conducted extensive land reclamation on some islands, constructing military facilities, causing concern in Washington and the region.

China’s foreign ministry on Monday dismissed Manila’s latest accusation as “groundless and pure rumor.”

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“Recently, the Philippine side has repeatedly spread rumors, deliberately smeared China, and attempt to mislead the international community, which is futile,” spokesperson Wang Wenbin told a regular briefing.

He urged Manila to “return to the right track of properly settling maritime disputes through negotiation and consultation.”

Philippine Coast Guard spokesperson Jay Tarriela stated that their presence at the Escoda shoal had deterred China from conducting small-scale reclamation. However, scientists would need to determine whether the piles of coral were natural or man-made.

He emphasized that the Coast Guard remained committed to maintaining a presence at the shoal, located just over 120 nautical miles from the Philippine province of Palawan.

In 2016, the Permanent Court of Arbitration ruled that Beijing’s claims in the South China Sea, a vital waterway, had no basis under international law. China rejects this decision.

The Sabina Shoal, locally known as Escoda, serves as the rendezvous point for vessels resupplying Filipino troops stationed on a grounded warship at the Second Thomas Shoal, where Manila and China have had frequent run-ins.

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