Philippines asks China to stop harassment in West Philippine Sea

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MANILA: The Philippines asked China to stop its harassment in the West Philippine Sea as it is undermining the peace and stability in the region, Philippine Daily Inquirer reported.

Philippines Foreign Affairs Ministry Spokesperson Teresita Daza made the plea after the Chinese Coast Guard (CCG) harassed the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) using a “military-grade” laser, which temporarily blinded the Filipino coast guards.

“We have no basis to doubt the report of our Philippine Coast Guard. But from the report, to harass, to shadow, to actually put in danger, not only the vessel, but the crew, and more important to actually target and point a military-grade laser – not just once, but twice – actually is not restrained in all accounts,” Daza said in a Laging Handa public briefing.

“We’re calling on China to cease and restrain from this action because it is not only damaging, it’s dangerous. It is also destabilising in terms of peace and stability in the region,” Daza further said.

On February 6, China’s Coast Guard reported using laser devices against the crew of a Philippine Coast Guard ship on February 6 in the South China Sea, according to Philippine Daily Inquirer.

However, China claimed they had acted in a “professional and restrained” way. Instead, China accused the Philippines of intruding into its territory.

Beijing also claimed that it did not direct the laser to the crew but instead used it “to measure the distance and speed of the Philippine vessel and signal directions to ensure navigation safety.”

It added that the laser “does not inflict damage on anything or anyone on the vessel.”

The Philippines nevertheless lodged a diplomatic protest over the incident.

Earlier, US State Department Spokesperson Ned Price said that they stand with Philippine allies in upholding the rules-based international maritime order and reaffirms an armed attack on Philippine armed forces, public vessels, or aircraft, including those of the Coast Guard in the South China Sea, would invoke America’s mutual defence commitments under Article IV of the 1951 Defence Treaty, according to the statement released by US State Department.

In 2016, the Philippines won its case against China before the United Nations-backed Permanent Court of Arbitration, invalidating Beijing’s nine-dash line claim covering almost the entire South China Sea, including the West Philippine Sea and Philippines’ exclusive economic zone, reported Philippine Daily Inquirer. (ANI)

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