China requests advance notice for access to Ayungin

China lifts blockade on Philippine resupply missions to BRP Sierra Madre in Ayungin Shoal

In a move seen as a retreat from its previous tactic of intimidation, China has announced that it will no longer block deliveries of food and other provisions to the military outpost on the BRP Sierra Madre in Ayungin Shoal, Philippine waters, as long as Manila provides advance notice.

The Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson made the statement in response to reports that the China coast guard attempted to stop the evacuation of a sick Filipino soldier from the Sierra Madre to a hospital in Palawan. This incident, along with the interception of food and provisions air-dropped by a military aircraft, prompted China to reconsider its blockade policy.

While China emphasized that they should be notified in advance for deliveries, the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) maintained that they do not need permission from China to conduct operations in their own territorial waters. The PCG Commandant expressed this sentiment in response to China’s statement.

Meanwhile, China’s state-run media outlet accused the Philippines of delivering “suspicious” items to the Sierra Madre, implying that construction materials were being transported to the grounded warship. The Philippines refuted these claims and reiterated their commitment to protecting their territorial waters.

The tension between the two nations escalated further when Chinese vessels harassed Filipino marine scientists conducting research in an area within the Philippines’ exclusive economic zone. Despite an international ruling invalidating China’s claims in the region, China continues to assert its sovereignty over Philippine waters.

Top officials in the Philippines denounced China’s actions, emphasizing that it is China who is trespassing in Philippine territory. The Defense Secretary and National Security Adviser criticized China’s aggressiveness and reaffirmed the Philippines’ maritime entitlements.

As the dispute over territorial waters in the West Philippine Sea continues, both countries remain at odds on the issue of sovereignty and maritime rights.

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