As China's leadership continues to press its claim on territory that the Philippines also claims for itself, a Chinese warship has run aground on a reef off Palawan while patrolling contested waters in the South China Sea/West Philippine Sea, an Australian newspaper reported on Friday.
The report came as the Philippine government started verifying reports that China had installed a powerful radar on Subi Reef, an islet 22 kilometers from the Philippine-occupied Kalayaan group of islands in the Spratly archipelago.
Reporter John Gaurnaut of The Sydney Morning Herald, citing unnamed Western diplomatic sources, said the People’s Liberation Army’s naval ship No. 560 became “thoroughly stuck” on a reef at Half Moon Shoal during the previous night.
The warship is a Jianghu-class frigate “that has in the past been involved in aggressively discouraging Filipino fishing boats from the area,” the Morning Herald said.
The Philippines refers to Half Moon Shoal as Hasa-Hasa Shoal, which military sources said is only about 111 km (60 nautical miles) from the municipality of Rizal on the main island of Palawan province, well within the country’s 370-km (200-nautical-mile) exclusive economic zone.
Mayor Eugenio Bito-onon of Kalayaan in Palawan confirmed the incident and said it has been 10 days since it happened according to field reports.