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Philippines Establishes Coast Guard Outpost Amidst China Tension


The Philippines said Friday it had opened a Coast Guard post in the country’s far north to boost security following China’s “military build-up” near Taiwan over the past two years.


According to National Security Adviser Eduardo Ano, the newly inaugurated outpost will focus on gathering vital maritime data and intelligence to enable the Philippine Coast Guard to effectively respond to various threats including illicit trade, trafficking, piracy, and foreign intrusions.

Ano cited the events of 2022, particularly in the vicinity of Itbayat, as a significant period witnessing increased military activity attributed to China’s response to political developments between Taiwan and the United States. The outpost is strategically located on Itbayat, the northernmost inhabited island of the Philippines, situated approximately 150 kilometers (93 miles) south of Taiwan’s southern coast.

Highlighting the importance of safeguarding peace, stability, and freedom of navigation along the Luzon Strait, Ano emphasized its critical role in Philippine national security and economic well-being. He further characterized the Luzon Strait, positioned between the Philippines and Taiwan, as both a crucial international waterway and a potential hotspot for regional and global conflicts.

Earlier this month, the Luzon Strait was the focal point of the annual joint military exercises between Manila and its long-standing ally, the United States. These exercises included simulated scenarios involving missile and artillery defense against hypothetical invasion forces off the northwest coast of Luzon.

The Philippine government’s cooperation with the United States in matters of defense was highlighted, with references made to the granting of military access to facilities such as a navy base and an adjacent airport on Luzon’s northern coast, as part of a defense cooperation agreement.

Tensions between Beijing and Manila persist due to conflicting territorial claims in the South China Sea. China’s extensive construction of artificial islands and military installations in close proximity to the Philippines has fueled this dispute. Recent confrontations, including water cannon incidents involving China Coast Guard vessels causing damage to Philippine government boats and injuries to crew members, underscore the volatility of the situation.

Notably, Itbayat lies just beyond the periphery of China’s expansive territorial claims delineated by a loosely defined map of dashes in the South China Sea.

Ano refrained from directly addressing the ongoing military exercises conducted by China, which commenced on Thursday, involving the encirclement of Taiwan with warplanes and naval vessels.

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