Manila [Philippines], April 3 (ANI): Reiterating its demand for the removal of Chinese vessels around Whitsun Reef, the Philippines on Saturday called out Beijing to explain why there are 44 Chinese ships massed in the Julian Felipe Reef (Whitsun) in the South China Sea.
"The Chinese Ambassador to the Philippines has a lot of explaining to do. There are still 44 Chinese vessels that are in Julian Felipe Reef (Whitsun). I am no fool. The weather has been good so far, so they have no reason to stay there. These vessels should be on their way out," Philippine Defence Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said.
Earlier this week, the US and the Philippines raised concerns over the presence of China's maritime militia vessels near the disputed Whitsun Reef in the South China Sea.
The White House in a statement said the National Security Advisors from the US and Philippines discussed their shared concerns regarding the recent massing of People's Armed Forces Maritime Militia vessels at Whitsun Reef.
According to the statement, Washington underscored that the Biden administration stands with their Philippine allies in upholding the rules-based international maritime order, and reaffirmed the applicability of the US-Philippines Mutual Defense Treaty in the South China Sea.
Last month, the Philippines announced the deployment of additional navy ships to the South China Sea after over 200 Chinese vessels were spotted in the Whitsun Reef. Later, the Philippines also filed a diplomatic protest over the issue.
On Monday, US Secretary Antony Blinken had come out in support of the Philippines after "China's maritime militia" massed Chinese vessels at a boomerang-shaped Whitsun Reef in the West Philippine sea.
"The United States stands with our ally, the Philippines, in the face of the PRC's maritime militia amassing at Whitsun Reef. We will always stand by our allies and stand up for the rules-based international order," Blinken tweeted.
The Whitsun Reef belongs to the Spratly archipelago, the territory of which is claimed by Brunei, China, Malaysia, the Philippines, Taiwan, and Vietnam.
China considers the Spratly archipelago to be its territory, despite the Hague-based Permanent Court of Arbitration ruling, which said there was no legal basis for China's maritime claims. The arbitration proceeding was initiated by the Philippines in January 2013, Sputnik reported. (ANI)