China drives away Philippines navy gunboat from Scarborough Shoal waters

October 10, 2023 - 2:03 PM
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Chinese Coast Guard personnel are seen onboard its vessel while sailing in the South China Sea, October 4, 2023. (Reuters/Adrian Portugal)

 China’s coast guard took measures to drive away a Philippine navy gunboat on Tuesday after it intruded into waters around the Scarborough Shoal in the South China Sea, according to an official statement.

The coast guard said it took “necessary measures” such as forcing the gunboat out and controlling its route after repeated dissuasion and warnings from the Chinese side were ignored.

China claims it has “indisputable sovereignty” over the shoal, which it calls Huangyan Island, and the adjacent waters.

Last month, the Philippine coastguard week said it had cut a 300 metre (980 feet) floating barrier installed by China that blocked access to the hotly disputed area which Beijing has controlled for over a decade.

Explainer: What is the risk of conflict at the disputed Scarborough Shoal?

“We urge the Philippines to immediately stop its infringement,” coast guard spokesman Gan Yu said, saying the action was also a serious violation of international law.

The occurrence comes a day after China warned the Philippines against further “provocations” at an atoll in the South China Sea, saying such acts had violated Chinese territorial sovereignty, contravened international law and disrupted regional peace and stability.

Ties between the Philippines and China have deteriorated of late, in large part due to overtures from its president to deepen defense ties with Washington, including offering expanded access to its troops, ostensibly for training and humanitarian purposes.

– Reporting by Liz Lee and Beijing newsroom; Editing by Christian Schmollinger and Miral Fahmy