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Philippines Constructs New Monitoring Station On A Disputed South China Sea Island

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In order to better track Chinese aircraft and vessel movements in the heavily contested waterway, the Philippines has constructed a new coast guard station on the disputed island of Thitu in the South China Sea.

The Philippine Coast Guard observed a Chinese navy ship and numerous militia vessels circling the island, one of nine features Manila holds in the Spratly archipelago, early this year as tensions over territorial claims escalate.

The Philippine Coast Guard said in a statement that the new, three-story building was inaugurated on Friday and is furnished with cutting-edge technology, including radar, automatic identification, satellite communication, and coastal cameras.

“The behaviour of the Chinese coast guard, People’s Liberation Army (PLA) Navy and Chinese militias are sometimes unpredictable,” National security advisor for the Philippines, Eduardo Ano, stated while on a visit to the island. “They do not adhere to the international order, to the rule of law. What they’re describing as gray-zone tactics … are pure bullying and it’s purely illegal. It’s not acceptable in the international order,” he told reporters on Friday.

The largest and most strategically significant outpost of Manila in the South China Sea is Thitu, which is mostly claimed by Beijing in spite of competing territorial claims made by a number of neighbouring countries.

Located roughly 300 miles (480 km) west of the Philippine province of Palawan, Thitu is referred to locally as Pag-asa. About 200 people call it home, and Manila uses it as leverage to hold onto its territory.

In addition to the Philippines, there are conflicting claims of sovereignty by Brunei, China, Malaysia, Taiwan, and Vietnam over the South China Sea, which serves as a shipping channel for more than $3 trillion in goods annually.

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