Friday, March 26, 2021

Philippines, Vietnam press China over South China Sea activities | Al Jazeera

Whitsun Reef

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte has expressed “concern” to China’s ambassador about Chinese vessels massing in the disputed South China Sea, his spokesman said, as Vietnam urged Beijing to respect its maritime sovereignty.
International concern has grown in recent days over what the Philippines has described as a “swarming and threatening presence” of more than 200 vessels that it believes are part of China’s maritime militia.

The boats were moored at the Whitsun Reef within Manila’s 200-mile exclusive economic zone (EEZ) as defined by the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea and supported by an international tribunal at The Hague.

“The president said we are really concerned. Any country will be concerned with that number of ships,” Duterte’s spokesman, Harry Roque, said on Thursday.

Duterte is being pressed to take a stronger stand against Beijing amid a separate revelation of “significant construction activity” by China at an artificial island built on top of Subi Reef, also within the Philippines’ EEZ.

“The volume of changes is significant, and may indicate the early phases of major construction on Subi Reef,” according to Simularity, a US-based technology firm that studied satellite images in the South China Sea.

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