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Third China Coast Guard ship to join 'vessel swarm' at Bajo de Masinloc — analyst

The China Coast Guard (CCG) has deployed another ship to join the buildup of Chinese vessels at Bajo de Masinloc or Scarborough Shoal, a security analyst reported early Saturday morning.

This would bring the strength of China's fleet at the rich fishing ground to three China Coast Guard ships and 25 Chinese militia vessels, based on figures reported Friday by the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG).

In a post on X (formerly Twitter), former United States Air Force official and ex-Defense Attaché Ray Powell said that the China Coast Guard ship CCG 5303 was "now arriving from the west to join the vessel swarm at Scarborough Shoal."

Powell provided digital imagery showing that the third CCG ship was on a trajectory towards the vicinity of Bajo de Masinloc. The same image showed at least eight Chinese militia vessels and two CCG ships closer to the shoal, particularly its lagoon entrance.

China's presence at Bajo de Masinloc has risen more than four-fold compared to last February, when six Chinese vessels were monitored during a voyage of the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) and a coverage team from GMA Integrated News.

According to Chino Gaston's report Friday on 24 Oras, the PCG said that 12 Filipino fishing vessels were also spotted in the area and that no floating barrier was installed.

GMA Integrated News has already sought comment from the Chinese Embassy in the Manila regarding the presence of China's ships at Bajo de Masinloc, but it has yet to reply as of posting time. — VDV, GMA Integrated News