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Coast Guard Vessel Chases Chinese Warship Out of West Philippine Sea

The small Philippine ship drove away a large Chinese warship.
IMAGE PHILIPPINE COAST GUARD
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On July 13, Philippine Coast Guard vessel BRP Cabra reported sighting a ship flying the flag of the People's Republic of China and with Chinese markings at the bank, 147 nautical miles from El Nido, Palawan. 

In accordance with protocol, the Philippine vessel issued a radio challenge to the Chinese warship, but was ignored. That’s when BRP Cabra moved closer to the Chinese ship to get a better view of the vessel. The incident happened at the Marie Louise Bank, which is within the exclusive economic zone of the Philippines. 

According to the Philippine Coast Guard, the BRP Cabra issued succeeding radio challenges to the Chinese ship, which started to move away from the area when the Cabra came to within 600 yards or 0.30 nautical miles of the Chinese warship. 

The Chinese responded with a request. 

“Philippine Coast Guard 4409, this is Chinese Navy Warship 189. Please keep two nautical miles distance from me.”

The warship started moving out of Maria Louise Bank, with BRP Capra tailing it until the vessel passed the border of the Philippines' EEZ.

The BRP Cabra is a small patrol boat that presently guards the Marie Louise Bank. It figured in a similar incident with Chinese vessels on June 30, when the ship scattered several Chinese ships loitering around the bank after it issued challenges to the ships. 

BRP Cabra of the Philippine Coast Guard

Photo by PHILIPPINE COAST GUARD.
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In April, the Philippine Coast Guard sent the BRP Cabra to Marie Louise Bank, a rich fishing area for Filipino fishermen. Its mission is to protect and ensure the safety of Filipino fishermen in the bank. 

Ever since the BRP Cabra was stationed in that area, Filipino fishermen have reported to have been able to fish peacefully and bountifully without being harassed by foreign vessels. 

The Chinese have been particularly careful not to engage Philippine public vessels in the West Philippine Sea after the United States announced any attack on all Philippine public ships (Navy and Coast Guard Vessels) will trigger the defense treaty between the U.S. and the Philippines. 

Although China's presence in the West Philippine Sea has remained steady, it does not seem to want to test if the U.S. is bluffing on its latest commitment with the Philippines. 

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Mario Alvaro Limos
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