Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) spokesman Jay Tarriela announced on May 13 that this force will maintain a permanent presence near Sabina Shoal to ensure that China cannot conduct land reclamation and artificial island building activities.

Sabina is an entity located within the Philippines’ 200-nautical-mile exclusive economic zone, but China considers it an entity that claims sovereignty over Nansha, the name Beijing uses to refer to the Truong Sa archipelago in the Sea.

Philippine Coast Guard monitors Chinese ships near Sabina Shoal in 2021. Photo: PCG

Mr. Tarriela said last weekend that PCG had deployed the BRP Teresa Magbanua ship to Sabina Shoal since April 15, after this country’s officials discovered many piles of crushed coral being dumped on the shoal, a sign that

PCG discovered 34 Chinese maritime militia ships also appeared in the area, escorted by navy ships, helicopters and 4 coast guard ships.

He said the Philippines would not `give in` and `continue to effectively enforce` Manila’s claim to the shoal by rotating ships to maintain a presence there.

Francel Margareth Padilla, Philippine military spokesperson, said today that artificial island reclamation activities in Sabina `have been prevented` following PCG monitoring activities.

`All island reclamation activities at the shoal have ended. Although PCG still detected divers in this area, we have prevented large-scale island reclamation activities,` Ms. Padilla said.

The BRP Teresa Magbanua, more than 96 meters long, is the largest patrol ship in the PCG fleet.

China is suspected of building more artificial islands in the East Sea

Location of Sabina Shoal, located about 75 nautical miles (nearly 140 km) west of the Philippine island of Palawan.

Tarriela said that China’s deployment of maritime militia, coast guard, research vessels and navy near the Palawan coast is a development that `causes concern, threatens sovereignty and causes significant damage to the marine environment.`

Chinese officials have not commented on the statements of the Philippine army and coast guard.

Over the past few months, the Philippines has repeatedly accused Chinese coast guard ships of coming dangerously close or spraying water cannons at PCG ships operating in the East Sea.

Continuous encounters between the two countries’ maritime law enforcement forces are making the region and the world worried that tensions will escalate out of control and lead to dangerous consequences.

Since 2011, China has illegally built up seven entities in Vietnam’s Truong Sa archipelago into artificial islands and conducted militarization activities.

Vietnam has repeatedly affirmed that it has sufficient historical evidence and legal basis to assert sovereignty over the Hoang Sa and Truong Sa archipelagos, in accordance with international law.

China is suspected of building more artificial islands in the East Sea

Appearance of 7 Chinese entities illegally renovated in Truong Sa

The process of China illegally accreting 7 entities in Truong Sa in the period 2011-2021.