Another Chinese vessel sent to Scarborough-A A +A
Saturday, April 21, 2012
MANILA -- China deployed Saturday an advanced fisheries law enforcement vessel to the disputed Scarborough Shoal, in place of one of two maritime surveillance ships initially stationed in the area.
Armed Forces of the Philippines Northern Luzon Command chief Lieutenant General Anthony Alcantara said the presence of the new Chinese ship was reported as of 6 a.m. Saturday.
Alcantara said the BRP Edsa Dos reported that one of the two Chinese surveillance ships previously stationed in the area is already gone and a new one has arrived.
He said two Chinese vessels remain in the area -- the Chinese maritime surveillance ship and the fisheries law enforcement vessel 310.
A standoff remains in place at the Chinese-claimed shoal, about 124 nautical miles from Zambales, since April 10 when the Philippines accused Chinese fishermen of poaching in its territory.
The South China Sea is home to a myriad of competing claims, also involving Vietnam, Brunei, Malaysia and Taiwan.
Alcantara said a lone Philippine Coast Guard ship, BRP Edsa Dos, is still in the area.
He said at least four Chinese fishing vessels, and five small fishing boats were spotted in the shoal as of Friday but they were gone as of Saturday.
He assured that the situation in the shoal is stable, amid calls by Philippine authorities to bring the issue to international court to settle the dispute.
On Friday, a Chinese surveillance ship was also sent to the area while three Chinese fishing vessels were seen at the shoal. The Philippine government accused China of escalating the 10-day standoff with the deployment of these vessels.
The Chinese government said, however, that the Chinese patrol vessel was dispatched after the Philippines refused to withdraw its coast guard ship from the shoal.
China, just like the Philippines, maintained its territorial claim over the Scarborough, which lies in what the Philippines considers its 370-kilometer (230-mile) exclusive economic zone. The shoal is among numerous islands, reefs and coral outcrops in the South China Sea valued for its potential oil and gas deposits, rich fishing grounds and proximity to busy commercial sea lanes. (VR/AP/Sunnex)