China to Grant Philippine Access to Ayungin if Prior Notice Given

Beijing officials have stated that they will not obstruct Filipino access to Ayungin Shoal in the West Philippine Sea, as long as they are notified in advance. This announcement came after an incident where the China Coast Guard tried to prevent the evacuation of a sick Filipino soldier from the BRP Sierra Madre on May 19, 2024.

Mao Ning, China’s Foreign Ministry spokesperson, made the statement to the media last Friday, emphasizing that China’s position on the issue of Ren’ai Jiao, the Chinese name for Ayungin Shoal, is clear. He stated that if the Philippines informs the Chinese side beforehand, they can allow the delivery of necessities to the grounded warship or the evacuation of personnel.

This development comes after the Philippine Coast Guard condemned the actions of the China Coast Guard, calling them “barbaric and inhumane” for allegedly ramming the inflatable boat carrying the Filipino soldier. The Philippine military also accused Chinese boats of illegally seizing food and medicine airdropped to a Filipino outpost at Ayungin Shoal.

Ayungin Shoal, also known as Second Thomas Shoal, has been occupied by the Philippine Navy through the BRP Sierra Madre since 1999. Despite being well within the Philippines’ exclusive economic zone, China asserts its sovereign rights over the shoal.

Meanwhile, China has announced plans to detain suspected “trespassers” into the South China Sea for 60 days without trial, starting on June 15. This decision has been met with protest from Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. Progressive groups like PAMALAKAYA have called for the demilitarization of the West Philippine Sea, advocating for its use for economic activities like fishing rather than military purposes.

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