Join our brand new verified AMN Telegram channel and get important news uncensored!

China patrols show 10-dash line push in West Philippine Sea, South China Sea

Chinese President Xi Jinping. (Lan Hongguang/Xinhua/Sipa USA/TNS)
July 06, 2024

While China’s encroaching patrols inside the exclusive economic zones (EEZ) of South China Sea (SCS) claimants have become common, the recent track of its biggest coast guard ship has drawn the interest of analysts.

The China Coast Guard’s (CCG) so-called monster ship followed a maritime route akin to China’s 10-dash-line, an update to its previous nine-dash-line claim to nearly the entire SCS.

China is now doubling down on its baseless claim in the SCS after adding a 10th dash covering the eastern section of Taiwan in 2023.

The then-nine dash line, which encroaches upon the EEZs of Brunei, Malaysia, Taiwan and Vietnam, and even Taiwan, has already been effectively invalidated by a 2016 international tribunal ruling.

It was the Philippines that challenged this sweeping claim in 2013, or a year after a tense standoff with China over Panatag (Scarborough) Shoal, an area inside the Philippines’ EEZ but which China now has effective control of.

As a result, the Philippines is bearing the brunt of what experts deem as China’s “expansionist ambitions”, part of which is its aggressive push to control the western section of Philippine EEZ that has led to confrontations at sea between the Philippines and China.

‘Monster ship’s’ track

Last June 17, the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) said that CCG’s biggest vessel, dubbed monster ship because it was the biggest coast guard ship in the world, passed near 12 of the Philippines’ maritime features in the West Philippine Sea (WPS). Philippine officials would later describe it as innocent passage.

The CCG ship, previously with hull No. 3901, is being called monster because of its size. It is 165 meters long and 22 meters wide — about 65 meters longer than an average football field — weighing 12,000 tons.

Commodore Jay Tarriela, PCG spokesperson for the West Philippine Sea, said the CCG ship, with bow No. 6901, traversed WPS from June 17-27 and also encroached into the EEZs of Philippine neighbors Malaysia and Brunei.

On June 17, the CCG monster ship first entered the 12-nautical mile territorial waters of two Philippine islands-Parola and Pagasa. Pagasa now hosts a fully functioning Philippine municipality.

It proceeded to enter Zamora Reef, where it stayed overnight, before eventually continuing its voyage by passing through Bayani and Union Banks, both also inside Philippine EEZ.

The ship entered Kagitingan Reef and “possibly resupplied for logistics” before heading to Luconia Shoal of Malaysia and also briefly entered the EEZ of Brunei.

On June 23, it again headed north and entered the Philippine EEZ passing through Rizal Reef and stopping for supplies at Panganiban Reef.

It continued to sail with impunity inside the Philippines’ EEZ, passing through Lawak and Patag and turning southeast to Escoda Shoal. All areas are inside Philippine territorial waters.

Its penultimate sighting was in El Nido town in Palawan province as it turned toward Panatag (Scarborough) Shoal, which was its final stop before returning to Hainan Island.

‘Monster’ hounds PH most

WPS monitor Ray Powell said he noticed that the monster ship’s patrol targeted the Philippines.

Read: West PH Sea: China ‘monster’ ship came much nearer to El Nido, Palawan — PCG

“It certainly followed the limits of the dash-line claim to the south and east, but not as much to the west,” said Powell, director of SeaLight, a team of volunteers at Stanford University’s Gordian Knot Center for National Security Innovation. The group monitors China activity in SCS.

“Vietnam was largely spared this particular intrusive patrol,” Powell, also a retired colonel of the US Air Force, told

Powell also noted that the CCG’s biggest ship “took special care” to pass by “sensitive” locations like Ayungin and Panatag Shoal inside Philippine waters.

The resupply activity of BRP Sierra Madre, a Philippine naval outpost grounded in Ayungin Shoal and PCG movements in Scarborough Shoal have been disrupted by China and emerged as a flashpoint of tension between Manila and Beijing.

The biggest confrontation between the two countries took place last June 17, when Chinese CCG personnel blocked Philippine boats carrying supplies to BRP Sierra Madre, boarded the boats and, as the Philippine Navy said, looted the Philippine supply vessels.

A clash took place as Philippine Navy personnel defended their boats, leading to one naval personnel losing a thumb and injuring others.

Read: Sailor whose thumb got cut off in Ayungin mission wants to return to duty

“This patrol was more focused on the Philippines than other countries like Malaysia,” Powell said.

CCG ships on ‘dash line’ track anew

Another large CCG ship has been conducting patrols in WPS features starting last June 30.

Read: China ship on ‘resupply cruise’ passed near 5 West PH Sea features — monitor

Powell said that the 8,000-ton Sansha 2 Hao first passed by Pagasa Island in the morning of that day, accompanied by another CCG vessel, San Sha Zhi Fa 301.

Powell said the two CCG ships also traversed the waters near Patag Island, Lawak Island, Escoda Shoal and Ayungin Shoal.

As of Monday (July 1), the two Chinese ships are within 60 nautical miles of Malaysia’s coastline “to assert the southern extent of Beijing’s maritime claims,” according to Powell.

“This mission has two purposes — to deliver supplies to Beijing’s Spratly Island bases, and to mark the extent of its maritime claims,” Powell told in an interview on July 1.

“It intentionally hits as many important locations within the [10]-dash-line claim as possible,” he said.

Beijing doubles down

Geopolitical analysts said such actions by China indicated that Beijing is trying to solidify its “expansionist claims” and that it is now “preparing for any eventuality.”

“This deployment is to continue making a statement for its expansionist claims in the West Philippine Sea,” said Don McClain Gill, lecturer at the De La Salle University’s Department of International Studies.

Gill told that Beijing’s lines “don’t matter”.

“What matters is that its goals in the West Philippine Sea are disruptive and against international law,” he said.

Security expert Chester Cabalza, also told “The voyage of China’s monster ship visibly seen on the track of its current imaginary lines in the South China Sea gives a semblance to its traditional art of war of gaining ascendancy to justify its state’s expansion and protection of frontiers.”

Cabalza said such actions indicate that China is now on the defensive.

“Most likely China is encircling the dashes to emboss its preparation for any eventuality — even if China has resurged as a regional military power, it still practices Confucian belief in the absence of the glorification of war,” Cabalza said.

Cabalza added: “But in modern Chinese art of war, the transect in the contested waters is to be able to be ready to withstand high winds, choppy waters, and even dangerous storms in the South China Sea.”


(c) 2024 the Asia News Network

Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.