Philippines Installing Monitoring Station in Disputed South China Sea

World Defense

Philippines Installing Monitoring Station in Disputed South China Sea

On Friday, the Philippines declared its establishment of a coast guard station on Thitu Island, the largest among the contested Spratly Islands in the South China Sea. The move aims to enhance surveillance of Chinese vessels, which have been asserting Beijing claims in the disputed waters, according to National Security Adviser Eduardo Ano.

During his visit to Thitu Island, Ano disclosed that the coast guard station, equipped with advanced systems such as radar, satellite communication, coastal cameras, and vessel traffic management, has been completed and is slated to become operational in the early months of the coming year.

Ano emphasized that these sophisticated systems would significantly bolster the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) capability to monitor the movements of Chinese maritime forces, as well as those of other nations and their own public vessels and aircraft. He referred to the real-time data collection as a "game changer," anticipating its potential impact on the behavior of rival claimants, particularly China.

Thitu Island, situated about 430 kilometers from Palawan, the major Philippine island, and over 900 kilometers from China nearest major landmass, Hainan island, has been a focal point in the territorial disputes.

Beijing asserts dominance over most of the South China Sea, contrary to an international tribunal ruling that invalidated its claims. The Chinese government deploys vessels for patrols and has constructed artificial islands and military installations to reinforce its position.

Tensions between Manila and Beijing have escalated in recent months due to various incidents in the disputed waters, including two collisions between Philippine and Chinese boats. Ano accused Chinese coast guard and other vessels of engaging in "illegal" and "aggressive" behavior towards Filipino fishermen and patrol boats, describing it as "pure bullying." Despite the challenges, Ano emphasized that the Philippines will stand its ground and not be deterred by any attempts to oppress or outmuscle the nation.

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