China Expels Philippine Personnel Amidst Maritime Security Pact with Vietnam

Chinese ships using water cannons against Philippine boats in late 2023 and the 2012 seizure of Scarborough Reef are notable incidents in the ongoing maritime dispute.
  • bureau
  • 12:33 PM, January 31, 2024
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China Expels Philippine Personnel Amidst Maritime Security Pact with Vietnam
Huangyan Island (Scarborough Shoal) in the South China Sea @via Philippine media

In an official statement released today, Gan Yu, spokesman for the China Coast Guard, reported that four Philippine personnel were dispelled from Huangyan Island (Scarborough Shoal) on Sunday after allegedly engaging in illegal activities.

According to Yu, the China Coast Guard issued a warning and lawfully escorted the “intruders” away. "The situation was handled professionally," stated Gan Yu.

He claimed China's "unwavering sovereignty over Huangyan Island" and its adjacent waters, asserting sovereign rights and jurisdiction over the relevant areas. China has consistently opposed Philippine infringements and vowed to resolutely safeguard national sovereignty and maritime rights.

In 2012, Beijing took control of Scarborough Shoal within the Philippines' EEZ after a months-long standoff involving paramilitary ships. 

This incident follows the signing of an agreement between the Philippines and Vietnam on Tuesday aimed at enhancing cooperation between their coast guards to prevent untoward incidents in the South China Sea. The two Southeast Asian nations have overlapping claims in the region, which is crucial for the annual $3 trillion ship-borne trade, with China claiming almost the entire sea.

The agreements between the Philippines and Vietnam include two memoranda of understanding on "incident prevention in the South China Sea" and "maritime cooperation" among coast guards. These were announced during a formal ceremony at the presidential palace in Vietnam.

The move comes as both Hanoi and Manila have experienced tensions with China's coast guard, particularly in the past year, adding strain to already deteriorating relations.

The maritime cooperation deal aims to establish a comprehensive partnership between the two coast guards, focusing on capacity building, training, and personnel and ship exchanges.

Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. highlighted these objectives during a meeting with Vietnamese Prime Minister Pham Minh Chinh, expressing the need for improved joint operational capabilities. President Marcos referenced recent incidents involving the Chinese coast guard, such as a water cannon assault on a Philippine vessel near the Second Thomas Shoal on December 10 and a similar incident in another disputed area, the Scarborough Shoal.