South China Sea: Philippines alarmed by 200 Chinese vessels at Mischief Reef, Marcos urges dialogue
Navy spokesman Roy Vincent Trinidad said about 200 vessels, including coastguard fleets, were swarming the outcrop some 37km away from Second Thomas Shoal, where Filipino troops are stationed on a rusty old warship.
Trinidad said every now and then, the Chinese vessels would be deployed to different parts of the resource-rich waterway.
“So a lot of these are under the [Chinese navy’s] South Sea Fleet. It’s their grey ships,” he said on Tuesday, adding their presence was “consistent throughout the past years”.
Trinidad also said the rising stream of militia vessels could pose a threat to Philippine troops.
“What we are really concerned about is their actions towards our own troops,” he said.
He said Beijing’s naval presence would not deter the Philippine military from supporting its personnel patrolling the hotly-contested sea, where it has in the past accused the Chinese coastguard of confronting Philippine ships including firing water cannons at them.
Trinidad’s comments came as Marcos asserted that he would “remain firm in defending our sovereignty and jurisdiction against any provocations”, the Philippine Daily Inquirer reported.
“But at the same time, we are also seeking to address these issues with China through peaceful dialogue and consultations as two equal sovereign states,” Marcos told his Vietnamese counterpart Vo Van Thuong as he concluded a two-day state visit to Hanoi.
Marcos maintained he considered the United States and China as “key actors in maintaining peace and security, as well as economic growth and development of the region”.
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He added Manila would continue to deepen military ties with Washington amid accusations