West PH Sea: China ‘monster’ ship came much nearer to El Nido, Palawan – PCG

/ 03:10 PM June 27, 2024

West Philippine Sea: China ’monster ship’ leaves El Nido, passes Scarborough 

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MANILA, Philippines — China Coast Guard’s (CCG) biggest vessel dubbed as the “monster ship” passed much closer to El Nido, Palawan than previously believed, the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) said on Thursday.

Commodore Jay Tarriela, PCG spokesperson for the West Philippine Sea, said CCG’s 5901 maintained a close distance of 34 nautical miles (NM) from El Nido’s coastline during its passage on Tuesday.

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West Philippine Sea monitor Ray Powell initially estimated that the 13,000-ton Chinese ship was spotted 40 NM away, a development which sent shockwaves across social media platforms like Facebook.

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READ: West Philippine Sea: China ‘monster ship’ now near El Nido, Palawan

Nevertheless, the giant ship was still outside the coastal town’s 12-nautical mile territorial sea, a red line that once crossed by Beijing, could be seen as a direct threat to Manila’s sovereignty.

As of 8:00 a.m. Thursday, the ship was back in the vicinity waters of Hainan Island with a distance of 46 nautical miles.

12 PH features saw ‘monster ship’

Tarriela said that before returning to China, the CCG monster ship passed near 12 maritime features of the country since June 17, occasionally providing supplies to Chinese vessels encountered along the way.

It first entered the 12-nautical mile territorial waters of Parola and Pag-asa islands, which he said “violates our sovereignty.”

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It then proceeded to enter Zamora Reef, where it stayed overnight, before eventually continuing its voyage by passing through Bayani and Union Banks.

The ship entered Kagitingan Reef and “possibly resupplied for logistics” before heading to the exclusive economic zones (EEZ) of Malaysia and Brunei.

It once again headed north and entered the Philippine EEZ  again, passing through Rizal Reef and making a supply stop at Panganiban Reef on June 23.

On June 24, it continued to navigate within the country’s EEZ, selectively passing through Lawak and Patag, and then making a quick southeasterly turn to pass through Escoda Shoal.

Its penultimate sighting was in El Nido town, before “making a quick turn” towards Panatag (Scarborough) Shoal. Powell previously reported that the ship was sighted only two kilometers away from the shoal.

From there, it joined the three CCG vessels deployed in Panatag Shoal before sailing towards Hainan Island.

Intrusive patrol

Powell has called the “monster ship’s” voyage in the entire South China Sea an “intrusive” patrol.

READ: ‘Monster ship’ in West PH Sea part of China’s intimidation tactics – expert

“It was … on an intimidation circuit of the region to send a message of the People’s Republic of China’s dominance,” Powell told INQUIRER.net on Wednesday.

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Beijing asserts sovereignty in almost the entire South China Sea, including most of the West Philippine Sea, even if such a claim has been effectively invalidated by the arbitral award issued in July 2016.

The landmark ruling stemmed from a case filed by Manila in 2013, or a year after its tense standoff with Beijing over Panatag Shoal, whose lagoon the latter now has an effective control of.

For comprehensive coverage, in-depth analysis, and the latest updates on the West Philippine Sea issue, visit our special site here. Stay informed with articles, videos, and expert opinions.

TAGS: China Coast Guard, West Philippine Sea

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