West Philippine Sea: China Coast Guard inching closer to Zambalesk

by Jun 25, 2024Featured Article, News

MANILA, Philippines—The China Coast Guard (CCG) is reportedly inching closer to a coastal town in Zambales amid its unilateral fishing ban and anti-trespassing policy, which encroach on the West Philippine Sea.

Citing reports from fisherfolk in the area, Leonardo Cuaresma, president of the Zambales-based New Masinloc Fishermen Association, told INQUIRER.net on Tuesday that CCG ships were spotted 30 nautical miles away from the coast of Masinloc town over the weekend.

According to Cuaresma, before this, Chinese vessels could only be spotted around 40 nautical miles away from Masinloc’s shores.

“As of present, they are now coming closer and closer to our shores,” Cuaresma said in Filipino in a phone interview.

While the CCG ships are inching closer to Zambales, they are still outside its 12-navigational-mile territorial sea, a red line that, once crossed by Beijing, could be seen as a direct threat to Manila’s sovereignty.

Beijing’s fishing moratorium in the South China Sea, which outright disregards Manila’s sovereign rights in the western section of its exclusive economic zone, began on May 1 and will last until September this year.

Since June 15, Beijing also authorized its coast guard to detain foreigners deemed “illegally crossing” its borders — including its “ten-dash line” — without trial for up to 60 days, a unilateral policy deemed by experts as illegal under international law.