China Demands PH To Remove World War Two-era Ship BRP Sierra Madre From Ayungin Shoal in West Philippine Sea
BRP SIERRA MADRE – China demanded the Philippines remove the World War II-era landing ship BRP Sierra Madre at the Ayungin Shoal in the West Philippines Sea.
The BRP Sierra Madre is a World War II landing ship tank placed in Ayungin Shoal by the Philippine Navy in 1999. The ship is used to mark the country’s boundary in the Spratly Island after China claimed the Panganiban Reef in 1995.
China has aggressively intruded and conducted military activities in the West Philippine Sea (WPS) despite the 2016 ruling by the Hague-based Permanent Court of Arbitration that debunks China’s claims in the WPS.
Now the BRP Sierra Madre is playing a crucial role in preserving the Philippines’ claims in WPS but it is now rusty. The wartime ship gained attention last week after Chinese Coast Guards used water canons to block Philippine boats on a supply run in Ayungin Shoal.
This prompted the PH government to protest. President Rodrigo Roa Duterte called out China at the ASEAN-China special summit. He said the incident is not good for the Philippine-China relationship.
A day after the Filipinos complete their resupply mission at the shoal, China reiterated its demand to the Philippines remove the BRP Sierra Madre ship from the Ayungin shoal. Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian justified their troops being near the wartime ship after Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana complained of their “intimidation and harassment” during its latest resupply mission.
“Ren’ai Jiao is part of China’s Nansha Qundao. China demands that the Philippine side honor its commitment and remove its grounded vessel on Ren’ai Jiao. This position remains unchanged. This delivery of food and other supplies is a provisional, special arrangement out of humanitarian considerations…”
“The China coast guard ship patrolled and performed its duty in the water area in accordance with law and monitored from start to end the Philippine side’s supply delivery activities,” Zhao added.
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