Philippines Summons Chinese Envoy to Protest Naval Intrusion | Military

MANILA, Philippines (AP) — The Philippine government summoned the Chinese ambassador on Monday to protest what it called an “illegal incursion” by a Chinese navy vessel into the country’s waters and to demand that Beijing orders its ships to respect the country’s territory and respect international law, officials said.

Manila’s foreign ministry said a Chinese People’s Liberation Army reconnaissance vessel crossed the Sulu Sea and sailed off western Palawan and nearby Mindoro provinces from January 29 to February 1 without permission and in violation of Philippine sovereignty.

Philippine Undersecretary for Foreign Affairs Maria Theresa Lazaro summoned Beijing envoy Huang Xilian and ‘demanded that China respect the territory and maritime jurisdiction of the Philippines and abide by its obligations under international law’ , the department said in a statement.

He added that Lazaro had asked China “to order its vessels to refrain from entering Philippine waters unless invited and without permission.”

A Philippine Navy ship repeatedly ordered the Chinese ship to leave the country’s waters immediately, but the vessel replied that it was making an “innocent passage”, a claim the Philippine government disputed.

The Chinese ship “did not follow a trajectory that could be considered continuous and expeditious, lingering in the Sulu Sea for three days,” the foreign ministry said.

Foreign vessels may be allowed to cross the archipelagic and territorial waters of another country under certain restrictions – notably that they must not carry out fishing, surveillance and research without a license or carry out any activity likely to harm the coastal state security.

Chinese embassy officials did not immediately react to the Philippine government’s statement.

The incident sparked a higher level of alarm because it happened on the country’s territory and not in the disputed South China Sea, where China, the Philippines and four other governments have had territorial disputes for decades , said a military official.

The Chinese navy ship may have been following a US military vessel, which was maneuvering off Palawan at the time as part of a government-sanctioned exercise with Philippine marines, said the official, who spoke under on condition of anonymity due to a lack of authority to publicly discuss the sensitive issue.

The Philippine Navy vessel approached within 1 nautical mile (1.8 kilometers) of the Chinese Navy ship to monitor its movements until it moved away, the official said.

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