The Vaval Forces of Eastern Mindanao (NFEM) yesterday said there is nothing to worry on the docking of Chinese ship on Monday night.
Commodore Ramil Roberto Enriquez, the commander of Naval Forces Eastern Mindanao (NFEM), said in the press briefing held at Pinnacle hotel that there’s nothing unusual about a Chinese vessel docking at the Davao port as long as it has all the clearances.
“So I was informed that Yuan Wang 3 was about to enter the Philippine waters in Davao Gulf but it has the necessary clearances issued by the Department of Foreign Affairs,” Enriquez said.
In fact, he said they didn’t make special arrangements for the Chinese vessel, adding that there are plenty of foreign ships that dock at the Davao port and General Santos City.
He also said that last May 2017, there were at least three Chinese navy ships that visited the Philippines.
“Usually, they have been asking clearance to dock in the Philippines for replenishment in terms of food or maybe water provisions,” he further said. “It is an International agreement with other countries, same for us when our navy ship will replenish (supply) in their country,” he added.
A Chinese ship docked in the city on Monday night, the fourth vessel from Chinese to visit the country since the term of President Rodrigo Duterte.
But Philippine Navy (PN) spokesperson, Cmdr. Jonathan Zata, yesterday said Yuan Wang 3 docked in the city only for replenishment. The foreign ship arrived 8:14 p.m. Monday and will stay in the country until July 19, Thursday, Zata added.
“It’s completely routine, nothing unusual about the visit. We had Chinese warships calling on our ports in the past the same as with any other warships from other countries,” he added.
Defense Sec. Delfin Lorenzana said the Chinese vessel docked in the president’s hometown on the request of Chinese ambassador Zhao Jianhua.
“Yes. We know about it. The Chinese Ambassador (Zhao Jianhua) wrote to the SFA (Secretary of Foreign Affairs Alan Peter) Cayetano that it would be docking in Davao to refurbish and it was allowed to do so,” Lorenzana said.
He added that “prior coordination” was made between Beijing and Manila regarding the ship’s arrival.
The ship is used for tracking and support of satellites and ballistic missiles. Yuan Wang 3 was launched in 1994 and delivered in 1995. It is reportedly capable of speeds up to 20 knots and has a range of 18,000 nautical miles.
The docking of the ship comes amid tensions between the Philippines and China over the latter’s continuous militarization and alleged bullying of Filipino fishermen in disputed areas in the South China Sea.
The last Chinese vessel to visit the country was April last year when guided missile destroyer Chang Chun docked in the country. Earlier, guided-missile Jin Zhou and replenishment ship Chao Hu also docked in the country.
The arrival of Yuan Wang 3 also comes a month after another Chinese military aircraft landed at the Davao City International Airport to refuel.
On June 8, a Chinese transport plane Ilyushin II-76, the first Chinese plane to land in the country, landed in the city on June 8 to refuel on its way to New Zealand. The same plane again landed in the city on June 23, also for refueling, en route to China.