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Chinese spy ships stalking U.S. Warships in military drills

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Two Chinese surveillance ships have been seen stalking American Navy vessels in the South China Sea, as the latter were conducting military drills outside of Philippine territorial waters.

As the Daily Caller reports, the exercise was a joint effort between U.S., Philippine, and French warships that first set off from Puerto Princesa on Thursday, to conduct the maritime portion of the Balikatan 2024 military exercises. But shortly after the vessels entered international waters, two ships with the People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) were seen pursuing them within a few nautical miles.

One of the Chinese ships was the Tianwangxing, a Type 815-class electronic surveillance ship, seen about 50 nautical miles from Western Palawan, which is located in the Philippine exclusive economic zone. One of the American warships, the USS Harpers Ferry, had to halt its live-fire drill because the Tianwangxing drew too close, coming within two nautical miles. Then on Sunday, a third Chinese ship was seen within nine nautical miles of the same formation.

However, American spokesmen denied that any part of the exercise was disrupted by the Chinese ships.

“I cannot speak for them but we are monitoring them, and we record then we report whatever our ships are monitoring in the area,” said Captain Ariel Joseph Colom Armed, from the Forces of The Philippines Western Command (Wescom). “As long [as] we continue to monitor and report them, we are in control of the situation.”

The maritime portion of the exercise ended on Monday. The ships involved in the exercise were the USS Harpers Ferry, the BRP Ramon Alcaraz, the BRP Davao Del Sur, and the FS Vendemiaire.

The exercise was conducted for the primary purpose of strengthening the alliance between the U.S. and the Philippines, in response to increasing aggression by China in the region.

“Balikatan is a tangible demonstration of our shared commitment to each other. It matters for regional peace and stability. When we increase our mutual response and defense capabilities, we strengthen our ability to promote regional security and protect our shared interests,” said Lt. Gen. William Jurney, U.S. Marine Corps Forces Pacific commander.

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