Exclusive: Philippine convoy deterred by Chinese forces, stops 50nm away from Huangyan Dao: source
Vessels stop 50nm away from Huangyan Dao
Published: May 16, 2024 12:45 PM Updated: May 16, 2024 11:00 PM
An aerial drone photo taken on May 13, 2024 shows the vessel

An aerial drone photo taken on May 13, 2024 shows the vessel "China Coast Guard (CCG) 3502" carrying out replenishment for other vessels in the South China Sea. The CCG conducted a regular training  during operations of rights protection and law enforcement in the waters of Huangyan Dao.(Photo: Xinhua)

A Philippine convoy organized by the Atin Ito Coalition has been deterred by Chinese forces, as it stopped 50 nautical miles away from China's Huangyan Dao (also known as Huangyan Island) on Thursday, despite the organization's claim of successfully completing its mission, the Global Times learned from a source.

Atin Ito's unilateral declaration of "mission accomplished" is an obvious deception, observers said.

The Atin Ito Coalition on Thursday reportedly announced that an advance team of its civilian-led resupply mission to China's Huangyan Dao had "bypassed China's blockade," as the organizations' co-convenor Rafaela David claimed "mission accomplished."

However, the actual situation at sea is that after being deterred by the rights-safeguarding and law enforcement forces from the Chinese side, the Philippine vessels stopped more than 50 nautical miles away from China's Huangyan Dao, a source close to the matter told the Global Times on Thursday.

The China Coast Guard (CCG) is now monitoring the on-site situation around the clock in an effort to forcefully safeguard rights, the source said.

The Xinhua News Agency reported on Wednesday that the CCG Ship 3502 and a number of other CCG vessels conducted regular training during rights protection and law enforcement operations in the waters adjacent to Huangyan Dao on Monday.

The CCG then launched an exercise on Tuesday and set up several perimeters on Wednesday, the source said.

When multiple Philippine fishing ships, escorted by the Philippine Coast Guard's BRP Bagacay patrol vessel, arrived in waters some 50 nautical miles away from China's Huangyan Dao and had CCG vessels in sight, they stopped their movement, and as of Thursday morning, they had already started to sail back in the direction of the Philippines for 15 nautical miles, according to the source.

Atin Ito, which means "This is Ours," is a Philippine nongovernmental organization believed to be sponsored by the US.

The coalition initially rallied some 100 civilian vessels to trespass into waters adjacent to China's Huangyan Dao, bring supplies to Filipino fisherfolk, and deploy "symbolic buoys" bearing a provocative message: "The West Philippine Sea is ours," according to Philippine media reports at the time.

The Philippine convoy was anticipated to orchestrate shows and stage behaviors to exert public opinion pressure on China, undermine China's efforts of pursuing peace in the South China Sea, and try to force China to make concessions over its sovereignty in the South China Sea.

However, according to Philippine media reports on Wednesday, the "symbolic buoys" were installed only some 14 nautical miles west of the Philippine coast, far away from China's Huangyan Dao, which is about 125 nautical miles from the Philippines.

After the Philippine advance team failed to reach Huangyan Dao on Thursday in the face of the CCG, the AP reported that the Filipino activists decided not to sail closer to the Chinese island.

The Atin Ito Coalition hastily wound up its provocative activities, but unilaterally declared success in its mission, observers said, calling the move a deception.

The Philippine's declaration is a typical self-congratulatory and false narrative, which aimed to seek its own interests through hype, the source said.

Atin Ito did not achieve its goal this time, but the Philippines will unlikely stop its schemes of making new rounds of provocations, analysts said.

Chen Xiangmiao, director of the World Navy Research Center at the National Institute for South China Sea Studies, told the Global Times that the Marcos Jr administration has seemingly left too little leeway for China, as the Philippines' so-called resupply missions actually aim for territorial sovereignty.

China's patience is not limitless, and if the Philippine side insists on carrying out its provocations and willingly acts as a vanguard of the US scheme of containing China, China will have no choice but to enhance its management and control measures, which could include canceling the temporary special arrangements granted to the Philippines, Chen said. He stressed that China has many good choices in its tool box to prevent the situation from escalating.

China hopes that the Philippines can become aware of its mistakes and turn back to the right track, and give a chance for China-Philippine relations to be reconciled, Chen said.