Manila presents diplomatic protest against the ‘incessant and prolonged’ presence of Chinese ships near the Thitu Islands.
The Philippines has protested China’s “continued illegal presence and activities” near its islands in the South China Sea.
In a statement on Saturday, the Philippine Ministry of Foreign Affairs said it had filed a diplomatic protest “against the incessant deployment, prolonged presence and illegal activities of Chinese maritime assets and fishing vessels” in the vicinity of Thitu or the islands Pag-asa.
He demanded that Beijing withdraw its ships from the area, saying, “The Pag-asa islands are an integral part of the Philippines over which they have sovereignty and jurisdiction.”
There was no immediate comment from Beijing.
The latest petition was at least the 84th diplomatic protest the Philippines has filed against China since President Rodrigo Duterte took office in 2016.
Up in the middle escalate tensions by the presence of hundreds of Chinese boats in the Philippines ’exclusive economic zone (EEZ) of 200 miles. Manila says it believes the boats were manned by militias, while Beijing has said they were fishing boats that were protected from bad weather.
Thitu or Pag-asa is located about 451 kilometers from the Philippine coast. The island is the largest of the eight breakwaters, banks and islands that have controls in the Spratly archipelago.
Just 25 kilometers (15 miles) away, on the Subi reef, China has built a mini-city with runways, hangars and surface missiles.
In 2016, an international tribunal overturned China’s expansive claims to the South China Sea, but Beijing has ignored the decision.
Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines, Taiwan and Vietnam also have competent claims on various islands and elements in the area.