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The Philippine coastguard shooed away Chinese maritime militia ships from a South China Sea shoal that is within its exclusive economic zone, officials said on Wednesday.
The incident happened on April 27 off Sabina Shoal, more than 230 kilometres east of the province of Palawan, where coastguard ship BRP Cabra found seven Chinese ships during a regular patrol, coastguard spokesman Commodore Armand Balilo said.
“You are within [the] Philippine exclusive economic zone,” a crew of the BRP Cabra said in a radio message to the Chinese ships. “You are requested to provide the following: name of vessel, intention, last and next port of call on Channel 16.”
The Chinese did not reply to the repeated radio messages, and the vessels dispersed and left the shoal 20 minutes later, Balilo said.
Two days later, the BRP Cabra also found five Chinese maritime militia ships in Sabina Shoal, known in Chinese as the Xianbin Shoal. The Chinese vessels left shortly after the Philippine ship arrived, Balilo said. China earlier declared a fishing moratorium in the South China Sea, but the Philippines’ national task force on the disputed area rejected the ban.
National Security Adviser Hermogenes Esperon, who heads the task force, also added that regular maritime patrols by the Philippine coastguard will continue in the disputed areas.
“The government is firm in its resolve to protect what is ours for the benefit of the Filipinos,” he said.
China claims almost the entire South China Sea as its territory.  Aside from the Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei and Taiwan also have overlapping claims to the area.
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