MANILA (Reuters) – The Philippines has lodged a new diplomatic protest against China’s maritime activities within Manila’s 200-mile exclusive economic zone, the foreign ministry said late on Friday.
It was the second diplomatic protest by the ministry this week, adding to more than 300 complaints filed against Beijing’s “illegal” activities in the South China Sea.
China engaged in “illegal fishing” while Chinese coast guard vessels shadowed Philippine boats on a resupply mission around its shoal, the foreign ministry said in a statement.
“China has no right to fish, monitor, or interfere with the Philippines’ legitimate activities therein,” it added.
The Chinese embassy in Manila did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The ministry said the Chinese actions took place at the Second Thomas Shoal, claimed by both Beijing and Manila and is located 105 nautical miles (195 km) off the Philippines’ Palawan province.
In November, the Philippines aborted a supply mission in the atoll after three Chinese coast guard vessels blocked and used water cannon on resupply boats.
China claims large swathes of the South China Sea and continues to assert its presence in the strategic waterway, despite an arbitration ruling in 2016 invalidating Beijing’s claim.
The protest underlines the challenges ahead for President-elect Ferdinand Marcos, who will have a delicate balancing act in pursuing stronger economic ties with China while not appearing to capitulate over what the military sees as Beijing’s unlawful provocations at sea.
(Reporting by Neil Jerome Morales; Editing by Shri Navaratnam)