Philippines: Presence of Chinese vessels in disputed waters is illegal

A protester holds a placard while others shout slogans during a rally against China’s presence in disputed waters in the South China Sea in this June 12, 2017 file photo. (AFP)
Updated 04 April 2019

Philippines: Presence of Chinese vessels in disputed waters is illegal

  • Military data shows the Philippines has monitored more than 200 Chinese boats near Thitu, or Pagasa, as it is known locally, from January to March this year
  • Besides the Philippines, Brunei, China, Malaysia, Taiwan and Vietnam have competing claims of sovereignty in the busy waterway

MANILA: The presence of hundreds of Chinese boats near an island occupied by Manila in the disputed South China Sea is illegal and a clear violation of Philippine sovereignty, the country’s foreign ministry said on Thursday.
“Such actions when not repudiated by the Chinese government are deemed to have been adopted by it,” the Department of Foreign Affairs said in a statement, days after the Philippines said it had lodged a diplomatic protest over the vessels.
The presence of the vessels in the vicinity of Thitu island for sustained and recurring periods raised questions about their intent and concerns over their role “in support of coercive objectives,” the ministry added.
Military data shows the Philippines has monitored more than 200 Chinese boats near Thitu, or Pagasa, as it is known locally, from January to March this year.
Besides the Philippines, Brunei, China, Malaysia, Taiwan and Vietnam have competing claims of sovereignty in the busy waterway, a conduit for goods in excess of $3.4 trillion every year.


Civilians, soldiers clash leaving 127 dead in South Sudan

Updated 32 min 3 sec ago

Civilians, soldiers clash leaving 127 dead in South Sudan

  • The violence in Tonj began after several armed youths got into a disagreement with soldiers
  • An initial armed confrontation was brought under control, but local youths subsequently mobilized for an attack on the army position

JUBA: Clashes between soldiers and civilians during a disarmament exercise in the central South Sudanese town of Tonj have left 127 dead, the army spokesman said Wednesday.
Major General Lul Ruai Koang told AFP that the fighting erupted on Saturday as security forces carried out an operation to disarm civilians in the area which has seen deadly inter-communal clashes.
More than six years after a civil war broke out in the country, and in the absence of a functioning government, many communities are flush with weapons, which they keep for protection or defense against cattle raids.
The violence in Tonj began after several armed youths got into a disagreement with soldiers. An initial armed confrontation was brought under control, but according to Koang the youths mobilized others for an attack on the army position.
“On the latest, the number of those killed, I can confirm to you that it rose to 127,” Koang said, adding that 45 of those killed were security forces and 82 were youths from the area.
A further 32 soldiers were injured.
Koang said two military officers involved in “triggering the clashes” had been arrested, and that the situation in Tonj had calmed down.
South Sudan is emerging from a six-year civil war that left 380,000 dead and millions displaced, and disarmament is a major stumbling block.
Experts have warned against operations that coerce people to lay down their guns without proper planning, as some communities could find themselves unable to protect themselves after their weapons are removed.
“The clashes should be an opportunity to rethink the approach to disarmament. What is the point of removing guns without addressing what drives folks to arms themselves?” Geoffrey Duke, head of the South Sudan Action Network on Small Arms, said on Twitter.
“We can take guns away this week & they buy a new one next week (as) long as they still see the need to have (one).”