The Philippines on Wednesday reported what it said were incursions into its exclusive economic zone (EEZ) by 287 Chinese maritime militia vessels.
“This incident along with continued illegal incursions of foreign vessels sighted near Philippine-held islands have been submitted to relevant agencies for the possible diplomatic actions,” the task force on the South China Sea said in a statement.
The Philippines foreign ministry has repeatedly complained to China in recent weeks regarding the swarming and threatening presence of Chinese vessels in its EEZ and has demanded they be withdrawn. The Philippines has recently boosted its presence in the South China Sea through sovereignty patrols, in a move of defiance that many critics say has been lacking under its pro-China president, Rodrigo Duterte.
Duterte caused a stir last week when he said a landmark 2016 ruling by the Permanent Court of Arbitration that went in the Philippines’ favour in a dispute with China was just a piece of paper that he could throw in the trash.
Defence and security analyst Jose Antonio Custodio said Duterte’s comments “cancels-out” the tougher tone being taken with China by his top diplomats and defence chiefs.