Chinese maritime ships are denying Filipino fishermen access to their traditional fishing grounds in the lagoon of Panatag Shoal, a chain of reefs and rocks off Zambales province whose ownership is being disputed by China and the Philippines even as Chinese vessels were seen continuing to mass in Panatag, also known as Bajo de Masinloc and its international name, Scarborough Shoal—which China claims to own even if the shoal is 472 nautical miles from the nearest Chinese coast.Manila is about to get taught a lesson. The Chinese are using their vastly superior power in a completely passive way, forcing Philippines into unpalatable choices. Where is the US? What's Washington's opinion of this mess? Washington's absurd position on Taiwan -- when Chen Shui-bian was admonished for 'provoking' China by holding referendums, but the State Department makes no similar move against Manila, instead offering to mediate. Hahaha.
According to the local government of Masinloc, which is only 124 nautical miles from Panatag, the town’s fishermen have reported that Chinese government vessels had blocked their entry to the lagoon.
The military reported that the number of Chinese vessels in the Panatag Shoal has increased to 33, from 14 last week.
The Philippines has only two vessels in the area. These are the BRP Edsa II, a Coast Guard search-and-rescue vessel (SARV 002) and the MCS 3001, a vessel belonging to the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources.
China currently has three big ships in the area. These are the Chinese Fisheries Law Enforcement Command (FLEC) 310 which is said to be its most powerful maritime ship, and the Chinese Maritime Surveillance (CMS) ships 75 and 81.
According to the military’s Northern Luzon Command (Nolcom), seven other Chinese fishing vessels and 23 utility boats have been seen inside the lagoon.
RJ Bautista, secretary to Masinloc Mayor Desiree Edora, said the Chinese maritime ships were preventing Filipino fishermen from fishing in the lagoon.
Note the beginnings of this incident:
The Panatag Shoal incident started last April 8 when the Philippine Navy on a routine sovereignty patrol spotted eight Chinese fishing vessels moored inside the shoal. Navy personnel boarded the vessels and discovered on board illegally obtained endangered turtles, baby sharks, giant clams and a large amount of corals.What does this tell you about the Peaceful Riser™?
The Navy dispatched its only warship, the BRP Gregorio del Pilar, to the area on April 10 but before the ship could tow the poachers to the nearest police station, two Chinese maritime ships arrived and blocked their arrest.
The US and Manila have a mutual defense treaty.
What is augured here? A couple of years ago China passed an 'island protection law' that "protected" 16,000 islands in the South China Sea as Chinese. Multiply Scarborough by 16,000..... this is a test, it is only a test. Had it been a real conflict....
UPDATE: Manila DFA says the US will honor its promise to defend the Philippines under the 1951 Treaty.
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