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2023 YEAR IN REVIEW

China's harassment in WPS continues in 2023


Despite diplomatic dialogues, China’s aggression in the West Philippine Sea (WPS) continued this year, resulting in the loss of livelihood for Filipino fisherfolk and damage to some Philippine ships.

January

A Filipino fishing boat, F/B Ken-Ken, reported that the Chinese Coast Guard (CCG) drove it off while it was fishing in Philippine territorial waters off Ayungin Shoal.

The captain of the F/B Ken-Ken told the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) that Chinese vessel CCGV 5204  maneuvered towards his boat at a distance of approximately 800 yards and deployed a rigid hull inflatable boat (RHIB).

Chinese sailors onboard the RHIB gestured for the Filipino fishermen to leave the area. F/B Ken-Ken altered its course and departed Ayungin Shoal. 

The Ayungin Shoal is around 100 nautical miles off Palawan but is also near Mischief Reef which is occupied by China.

February

The PCG in February accused a CCG vessel of aiming a "military-grade" laser at one of its vessels supporting a Philippine Navy rotation and resupply mission

August

Beijing’s harassment continued in August with Chinese vessels firing water cannons at PCG vessels going to Ayungin Shoal for a resupply mission to the grounded BRP Sierra Madre.

September

China installed a floating barrier in the southeast portion of Bajo de Masinloc (Scarborough Shoal), preventing Filipino fishermen from entering the area to conduct their fishing activities.

Both PCG and the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources  condemned the installation of the buoy.

December

Beijing increased the number of Chinese Maritime Militia vessels in the WPS as the PCG reported more than 135 vessels of the CMM have been spotted off Julian Felipe Reef— located within the Philippine area of responsibility.

The Philippines also accused China of firing water cannons on Philippines vessels on a regular rotation and resupply mission to the BRP Sierra Madre the same month, which resulted in the  serious engine damage to one of its vessels.

The July 2016 Permanent Court of Arbitration ruling issued in The Hague upheld the Philippines' 200 nautical mile Economic Exclusive Zone (EEZ), outlawed Chinese aggression in the common fishing ground of Scarborough Shoal, and rejected China’s expansive nine-dash-line claim of the entire South China Sea. Beijing has since refused to acknowledge the ruling.  —RF, GMA Integrated News

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