Sat, Dec 29, 2012 - Page 6 News List

Philippines objects to patrol vessel

STORMY WATERS:Already high tensions between the Philippines and China over South China Sea territorial claims were ratcheted up as China sent a new ship there

AFP, MANILA

Crew stand guard on board the patrol vessel Haixun 21 during a ceremony celebrating its enlistment into the Hainan Maritime Safety Administration at a port in Haikou, Hainan Province, China, on Thursday.

Photo: Reuters

The Philippines yesterday said it “strongly objects” to China’s deployment of a new patrol vessel in the South China Sea, where the two countries have a seething maritime territorial dispute in waters also claimed by Taiwan.

Such patrols will not boost China’s claim to the disputed territory where the two countries have had a standoff since April, Philippine Department of Foreign Affairs spokesman Raul Hernandez said in a statement.

“The Philippines strongly objects to the Chinese patrol of Philippine maritime domain in the West Philippine Sea,” the statement said, using the local name for the South China Sea.

It called on China to respect the country’s “territorial sovereignty and EEZ,” referring to the Philippines’ 200 nautical mile (370.4km) exclusive economic zone.

China’s official Xinhua news agency said on Thursday the Haixun 21, a patrol vessel equipped with a helipad, would be deployed to the South China Sea.

In November, China said it had granted its border patrol police the right to board and turn away foreign ships entering the disputed waters, raising fears of a confrontation.

The Philippines, Taiwan and China have overlapping claims over parts of the South China Sea, a major shipping route that is also believed to hold vast mineral resources.

Tensions between China and the Philippines have risen in the area since April after a standoff over the Scarborough Shoal, called Huangyan Island (黃岩島) in Taiwan and China.

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