Philippines summon Chinese ambassador over South China Sea collisions

MANILA, Oct 23: Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos Jr called security and defence officials for a special command conference on Monday as the Chinese ambassador was summoned a day after Chinese and Philippine vessels collided in the South China Sea.

Defence Secretary Gilberto Teodoro said the meeting was held for the president “to be briefed and to give his guidance on the latest violation by China of the sovereignty of the Republic of the Philippines”, reported German news agency (dpa).

The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) summoned Chinese Ambassador Huang Xilian, who was out of town, and was represented by the embassy’s deputy chief of mission.

A strongly worded diplomatic protest enumerated the Chinese Coastguard’s violations after two Philippine vessels were hit with its dangerous manoeuvres, the DFA said. The Philippine vessels were in a routine supply mission to an outpost in the Second Thomas Shoal in the South China Sea.

“We have every right to carry out legitimate activities in our maritime zones. We do not accept any form of interference,” Ambassador Teresita Daza, the DFA’s spokeswoman, said. “The Philippine government views the latest aggression by China as a blatant violation of international law. China has no legal right or authority to conduct law enforcement operations in territorial waters and in our EEZ (exclusive economic zone),” Teodoro said in a statement.

Teodoro said the incident was “a serious escalation of the illegal activities conducted by the Chinese government” in the South China Sea. She said Marcos ordered the Philippine Coastguard to swifty conduct a maritime investigation into the incident. 

Since 2020, a total of 465 diplomatic protests were lodged by the Philippines against China. Of this number, 122 were filed under the Marcos administration, Daza said.