Philippine navy completes South China Sea mission

Written by Staff Writer by Adnan Kazim, CNN

The Philippine navy has completed a resupply mission to South China Sea outposts inside disputed territory that China occupied last month, according to a senior commander.

The supply ship P-51SL departed for Woody Island on December 26, with a total of 300 Philippine troops and five ships for the mission. The convoy saw off Chinese vessels that remained within an 11-mile zone around Woody Island.

Images from the ship posted to the Philippine army website Saturday showed heavily armored armored vehicles — light tanks and MRAPs (Multiple Launch Rocket Systems) — have been loading onto the ship.

The multi-level ships with an estimated length of 105 meters, also included construction equipment and life support pods.

The resupply mission followed the Philippine military’s seizure of an artificial island in the Spratly archipelago last month. The tiny, uninhabited island known as Pagasa, or “Spratly mother,” is near an airstrip built by China on Subi Reef.

Efforts by both countries to build artificial islands with airstrips and other facilities have stoked tensions in the South China Sea, with China carrying out military drills nearby.

China claims sovereignty over almost all of the South China Sea, as does Vietnam, while other countries such as the Philippines, Malaysia, and Taiwan hold conflicting claims.

Representatives from Russia, India, Pakistan, Iran, Thailand, Laos, and Myanmar are set to attend the ongoing ASEAN-China leaders’ summit in Manila, which will discuss issues including the need to develop diplomatic channels to resolve territorial disputes in the South China Sea.

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