China deploys fleet of ships to South China Sea amid dispute with Philippines - Report | Eurasia Diary - ednews.net

16 February, Saturday


China deploys fleet of ships to South China Sea amid dispute with Philippines - Report

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China has deployed a nearly 100-strong fleet in the South China Sea amid territorial disputes with neighbouring countries, specifically the Philippines, a new report says.

According to the Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative (AMTI) run by the Washington-based Centre for Strategic and International Studies, the large armada was reportedly sent to the contended Thitu Island, a Philippine-held part of a large cluster of islands disputed between China, Taiwan, Malaysia, the Philippines and Vietnam.

The report claims the fleet, which includes vessels from the navy, coastguard and dozens of fishing boats, was part of an effort to stop the Philippine government from continuing construction at the island.

The number of deployed ships surged on December 25, reaching 95 ships. The number has since dropped, reaching 42 vessels by January 26.

The Philippine government has been seeking to develop an airway on the island by building a breaching ramp since 2017.

The project was due to be finished by the end of last year, but officials say that it has been delayed because of extreme weather.

The ATMI study claimed Chinese deployment has also contributed to the delay.

China claims sovereignty to most of the resource-rich South China Sea, through which $5 trillion in shipping trade passes annually, despite competing claims from Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines, Taiwan and Vietnam.

The US has been taking sides with several of China’s neighbours in their territorial disputes in the busy sea, stepping up military presence under the pretext of freedom of navigation operations in international waters, prompting Beijing's alarm.

China has constantly warned Washington that close military encounters by air and naval forces of the two countries in the region could easily trigger miscalculation or even accidents in the sea or in the air.

In January, President Xi Jinping ordered China's armed forces to get prepared for a “comprehensive military struggle” amid an era of drastic changes.

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