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DFA summons China diplomat

MANILA, Philippines — The Philippines has summoned Beijing’s charge d’affaires in Manila to protest the Chinese coast guard’s “aggressive actions” over the weekend around Ayungin Shoal, which left four Filipino soldiers injured and a supply vessel severely damaged.

Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) Deputy Assistant Secretary Raphael Hermoso yesterday summoned Charge d’Affaires Zhou Zhiyong “to convey the Philippines’ strong protest against the aggressive actions undertaken by the China Coast Guard and Chinese Maritime Militia against the rotation and resupply mission undertaken by the Philippines in Ayungin Shoal on 23 March 2024.”

Last Saturday’s incident was the second time this month that the Chinese coast guard attempted to stop Filipino vessels from delivering supplies and provisions to troops on the BRP Sierra Madre in Ayungin Shoal, using water cannons and conducting dangerous maneuvers.

The Philippine embassy in Beijing, meanwhile, was instructed to lodge the same demarche or political action with the Chinese ministry of foreign affairs.

“In these demarches, the Philippines stressed, among others, that China has no right to be in Ayungin Shoal, a low-tide elevation that lies within the Philippines’ exclusive economic zone and continental shelf in accordance with the 1982 UNCLOS and as affirmed by the 2016 Arbitral Award,” DFA spokesperson Ma. Teresita Daza said in a statement, referring to the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea.

“China’s continued interference with the Philippines’ routine and lawful activities in its own exclusive economic zone is unacceptable. It infringes upon the Philippines’ sovereign rights and jurisdiction,” she said.

At Malacañang, Executive Secretary Lucas Bersamin presided over a national security meeting on the issue, Presidential Communications Office Secretary Cheloy Garafil said without elaborating.

China’s foreign ministry yesterday defended its coast guard’s action, saying the Philippines reneged on a promise to tow away the Sierra Madre, “violating the commitments it has made to the Chinese side on many occasions.”

Foreign Affairs Undersecretary for bilateral relations and ASEAN affairs Ma. Theresa Lazaro