Spratly Islands - updates

Rappler's latest stories on Spratly Islands


Beijing names islands in disputed South China Sea

Apr 21, 2020 - 8:04 PM

The notice lists the Chinese names and coordinates of 80 islands, reefs, seamounts, shoals and ridges, 55 of them submerged in water

PARACEL ISLANDS. An aerial view of Qilianyu islands in the Paracel chain, which China considers part of Hainan province on August 10, 2018. File photo by AFP

Carpio corrects China ship owner's apology: Recto Bank not part of Spratlys

Aug 28, 2019 - 6:50 PM

Supreme Court Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio says Recto Bank is within the Philippines' exclusive economic zone, 'beyond the territorial sea of any island in the Spratlys'

GEM-VER. In this photo, the damaged stern of Philippine fishing boat Gem-Ver is seen as it arrives back in its hometown of Barangay San Roque, San Jose, Occidental Mindoro. Photo by LeAnne Jazul/Rappler

DND to investigate China missile test in West Philippine Sea

Jul 03, 2019 - 5:48 PM

The Philippine government will look into a US report that China tested ballistic missiles near the Spratlys, a move the Pentagon called 'disturbing'

KAGITINGAN REEF. This satellite image dated January 1, 2018, shows Kagitingan Reef (Fiery Cross Reef) in the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea). Photo courtesy of CSIS/AMTI/DigitalGlobe

[ANALYSIS] China’s new Great Wall

Jun 18, 2019 - 9:14 AM

China has not stopped building imaginary walls to protect its maritime Silk Road, and the Philippines will soon be a part of the defense line

TIMELINE: Skirmishes, standoffs, harassment in West Philippine Sea

Jun 12, 2019 - 10:08 PM

These incidents in the Philippines-China row typically don't just target state authorities but also affect local fisherfolks

This photo taken on May 14, 2019, a Philippine coast guard ship (R) sails past a Chinese coastguard ship during an joint search and rescue exercise between Philippine and US coastguards near Scarborough shoal, in the South China Sea. - Two Philippine coastguard ships, BRP Batangas and Kalanggaman and US coastguard cutter Bertholf participated in the exercise. (Photo by TED ALJIBE / AFP)

Spratlys part of China territory? Malacañang reminds Beijing of Hague ruling

Apr 12, 2019 - 9:59 PM

'China should avoid performing acts that will place at risk the Filipino fishermen fishing in the disputed areas,' says Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo

China builds weather stations in West Philippine Sea

Nov 04, 2018 - 3:04 PM

China reportedly installs these weather stations on Fiery Cross Reef, Subi Reef, and Mischief Reef in the West Philippine Sea

MISCHIEF REEF. Structures seen on a satellite image of Mischief Reef on November 15, 2016, released December 13, 2016. Image courtesy of CSIS Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative/DigitalGlobe

Chinese destroyer sails extremely close to U.S. warship

Oct 02, 2018 - 12:46 PM

A Chinese Luyang destroyer has approached the USS Decatur in 'an unsafe and unprofessional maneuver in the vicinity of Gaven Reef in the South China Sea,' says US Pacific Fleet spokesman Commander Nate Christensen

DISPUTED WATERS. This US Navy photo obtained October 21, 2016 shows the USS Decatur (DDG 73) as it operates in the South China Sea as part of the Bonhomme Richard Expeditionary Strike Group (ESG) on October 13, 2016. File photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Diana Quinlan/US Navy/AFP

[OPINION] Flashpoint Ayungin

Jun 05, 2018 - 9:39 AM

The latest harassment of Philippine troops by China in Ayungin is part of a pattern. In 2013, the Armed Forces had already reported that China eyed to occupy the shoal which lies within the country's EEZ.

Duterte 'seriously concerned' about Navy soldiers harassed by China chopper

May 31, 2018 - 9:46 PM

While Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte has refrained from speaking publicly about the Ayungin Shoal incident, he conveyed concern about it in a confidential meeting

President Rodrigo Roa Duterte signs the Executive Order which prohibits illegal contractualization while delivering his speech during the 116th Labor Day Celebration at the IEC Convention Center in Cebu City on May 1, 2018. RICHARD MADELO/PRESIDENTIAL PHOTO

China chopper harasses PH rubber boat in Ayungin Shoal – lawmaker

May 30, 2018 - 6:35 PM

Foreign Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano does not categorically call it a form of 'harassment' in the West Philippine Sea, as he prefers to label it an 'incident'

BRP SIERRA MADRE. This aerial photograph taken from a military aircraft shows the dilapidated Sierra Madre ship of the Philippine Navy anchored near Ayungin Shoal (Second Thomas Shoal) with Philippine soldiers onboard to secure the perimeter in the Spratly group of islands in the South China Sea, west of Palawan, on May 11, 2015. File photo by Ritchie Tongo/AFP

China deploys new weapons systems to Paracel Islands

May 26, 2018 - 2:00 PM

Nearby, the Philippines begins 'long-delayed repairs' to its runway on the Spratly Islands in the West Philippine Sea, says the Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative

NEW WEAPONS. China deploys new weapons systems to Woody Island, their base on the Paracel Islands. Photo from CSIS/AMTI/DigitalGlobe  NEW WEAPONS. China deploys new weapons systems to Woody Island, their base on the Paracel Islands. Photo from CSIS/AMTI/DigitalGlobe

More than 1,600 Chinese structures in South China Sea

May 25, 2018 - 9:51 PM

From basketball courts to buildings with radar equipment, nearly 800 of these Chinese structures can be found in the West Philippine Sea

SUBI REEF. This photo shows the artificial island on Subi Reef in the West Philippine Sea as of December 7, 2017. Photo courtesy of CSIS/AMTI/DigitalGlobe

Trillanes seeks Senate probe into China missiles in Spratlys

May 07, 2018 - 4:55 PM

(UPDATED) 'This alleged militarization of the West Philippine Sea is very alarming and it poses a big threat to the country's national defense and security,' says Senator Antonio Trillanes IV in a resolution

DISPUTED. This 2016 file photo shows a portion of the disputed Mischief Reef in the South China Sea where there are Chinese facilities.

[OPINION | NEWSPOINT] Missing the forest for the trees

May 05, 2018 - 2:25 PM

Indeed, China is emerging as the Duterte regime’s ultimate patron – as investor, infrastructure builder, labor and material supplier, and money lender – in a modern-day sort of colonial arrangement

China protests after U.S. warship sails near island

Aug 11, 2017 - 11:51 AM

Foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang says the actions of the USS John S McCain have violated Chinese and international law seriously impairing the country s sovereignty and security

This US Navy photo obtained August 10, 2017 shows the Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS John S. McCain (DDG 56) as it patrols the South China Sea on January 7, 2017. A US warship on August 10, 2017 sailed close to an artificial island China has built up in the South China Sea. Photo by James Vazquez/US Navy/AFP

Beijing's South China Sea outposts nearly set for missile deployment – report

Jun 30, 2017 - 8:15 AM

The Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative says Beijing s Fiery Cross Reef base in the Spratly Islands now has 12 hardened shelters 4 more than seen in February with retractable roofs that can house missile launchers

FIERY CROSS/KAGITINGAN REEF. In 1998, China built a weather station that is seen in a photo from January 2006. After a decade, the marine observation station became a military fortress. File photo courtesy of CSIS/AMTI/Digital Globe

China rejects 'irresponsible' U.S. remarks on South China Sea

Jun 05, 2017 - 1:20 PM

The Chinese foreign ministry accuses certain countries outside the region of making erroneous remarks driven by ulterior motives

US Pentagon chief Jim Mattis delivers his speech during the first plenary session at the 16th Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS), ShangriLa Dialogue Summit in Singapore on June 3, 2017. Roslan Rahman/AFP

China should pay and go

May 28, 2017 - 10:00 AM

As China and the Philippines engage in bilateral talks Manila should revisit the South China Sea arbitral award and not sleep on its rights

SLEEPING OVER PH RIGHTS? Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte and Chinese President Xi Jinping shake hands before their bilateral meeting at the Great Hall of the People, Beijing. MPC pool photo

China condemns U.S. after warship sails near South China Sea reef

May 25, 2017 - 1:10 PM

3rd UPDATE China claims the USS Dewey trespassed in its territorial waters

MISCHIEF REEF. Structures seen on a satellite image of Mischief Reef on November 15, 2016, released December 13, 2016. Image courtesy of CSIS Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative/DigitalGlobe

IN PHOTOS: The China build-up

Apr 09, 2017 - 10:30 AM

President Rodrigo Duterte has ordered the military to occupy and build structures in Philippine territory in the South China Sea China has been building its own way before this

China muted after Tillerson vows islands blockade

Jan 12, 2017 - 3:11 PM

UPDATED We re going to have to send China a clear signal that first the island building stops and second your access to those islands is also not going to be allowed Rex Tillerson says

WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 11: Former ExxonMobil CEO Rex Tillerson, U.S. President-elect Donald Trump's nominee for Secretary of State, testifies during his confirmation hearing before Senate Foreign Relations Committee January 11, 2017 on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC. Tillerson is expected to face tough questions regarding his ties with Russian President Vladimir Putin. Alex Wong/Getty Images/AFP

PH defense chief plans to visit troops in West PH Sea

Jan 09, 2017 - 7:00 PM

UPDATED Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana says he will await the recommendation of the military on when he could visit the troops there

TROOPS VISIT. The military says the planned visit of Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana to the troops deployed in the West Philippine Sea is no reason to anger China. Rappler file photo

On China 'militarizing' Spratlys: 'Nothing we can do'

Dec 17, 2016 - 9:19 PM

UPDATED We cannot stop China at this point in time we will continue to pursue peaceful means at which all of these militarization can be prevented Philippine Foreign Secretary Perfecto Yasay Jr says

TOP DIPLOMAT. Philippine Foreign Secretary Perfecto Yasay Jr speaks with the Russian foreign minister during their meeting in Moscow on December 5, 2016. Photo by Natalia Kolesnikova/AFP

China says weapons in South China Sea not militarization

Dec 15, 2016 - 6:30 PM

Foreign ministry spokesman: To conduct construction on China s own territory and deploy necessary national defense facilities is quite normal

China boosts defenses on South China Sea islets – US experts

Dec 15, 2016 - 8:39 AM

Ongoing satellite imagery has shown the installation of military equipment and longer runways on artificial islands in the disputed sea says US based think tank

Structures seen on a satellite image of Mischief Reef on November 15, 2016. Image courtesy CSIS/AMTI / DigitalGlobe

Satellite images appear to show Vietnam dredging on disputed reef

Dec 09, 2016 - 1:43 PM

UPDATED An image of the small Ladd Reef in the Spratly Islands where Vietnam has a lighthouse shows several vessels in a carved out embankment on the reef s edge

DREDGING WORK. This satellite image taken on November 30, 2016 and released on December 9, 2016 by US-based Planet Labs shows dredging work (C below) on a small reef under Vietnamese control in the South China Sea. Image by Planet Labs/AFP

Duterte and Obama, ASEAN on China, Apple iPhone 7 | 12PM wRap

Sep 08, 2016 - 12:58 PM

Watch the 12PM wRap with Maria Ressa

Obama warns China over South China Sea ruling

Sep 08, 2016 - 12:17 PM

5th UPDATE Obama: The landmark arbitration ruling in July which is binding helped clarify maritime rights in the region

WARNING. US President Barack Obama speaks during the 4th ASEAN - US Summit in Vientiane on September 8, 2016. Saul Loeb/AFP

ASEAN Summit: China under pressure over sea dispute

Sep 08, 2016 - 8:15 AM

Any artificial island at Scarborough Shoal could be a game changer in China s quest to control the South China Sea and raises the risk of armed confrontation with the United States security analysts say

Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte (3rd R) shakes hands with Chinese Primier Li Keqiang (2nd L) in front of Vietnam's Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc (L), Laos Prime Minister Thongloun Sisoulith (C), Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen (2nd R) and Brunei's Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah at the 19th ASEAN-China Summit to commemorate the 25th Anniversary of the ASEAN-China Dialogue Relations in Vientiane on September 7, 2016. Noel Celis/AFP

Angry China warns against 'cradle of war' in sea

Jul 13, 2016 - 2:30 PM

3rd UPDATE China reacts furiously to the decision of a UN backed arbitral tribunal in The Hague on the South China Sea dispute

Activists from various anti-China groups rally in front of the Chinese Consulate in Makati City on Tuesday, July 12, 2016. Photo by Ben Nabong

China to launch cruises to disputed Spratly islands

Jun 22, 2016 - 3:30 PM

A new proposal seeks to develop routes to the Spratlys much further south said the government published China Daily newspaper

An aerial photo taken though a glass window of a military plane shows the ongoing reclamation by China on Mischief Reef, part of the disputed Spratly Islands in the South China Sea, west of Palawan, Philippines, on May 11, 2015. Photo by Ritchie Tongo/EPA/Pool

ASEAN ministers express 'serious concerns' over South China Sea

Jun 14, 2016 - 8:10 PM

In a rare diplomatic slap in the face for Beijing – issued on its own territory – the Association of Southeast Asian Nations ASEAN offers a sharp rebuke over China s actions in the waterway

FUELING CONCERN. New images released by the Center for Strategic and International Studies – such as this photo of Cuarteron Reef – show the extent of China's reclamation activities in the South China Sea. Photo courtesy of CSIS

Beijing refuses to move on sea disputes as US meet ends

Jun 07, 2016 - 7:00 PM

China s top diplomat Yang Jiechi insists that the country s stance is in line with international law and will not change

epa05349540 (L-R) US Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew, US Secretary of State John Kerry, Chinese Vice Premier Wang Yang and State Councillor Yang Jiechi attend during the closing ceremony of the eighth round of US-China Strategic and Economic Dialogue in Beijing, China, 07 June 2016. The 8th US-China Strategic and Economic Dialogue and the 7th round of US-China high-level consultation on people-to-people exchange are held in Beijing on 06 and 07 June 2016. EPA/HOW HWEE YOUNG

China eyeing air defense zone over South China Sea – report

Jun 01, 2016 - 11:35 AM

The trigger for an announcement would be if the United States continues making provocative moves that would challenge China in the region the South China Morning Post reports

RECLAMATION ACTIVITIES. An aerial photo taken though a glass window of a military plane shows the ongoing reclamation by China on Mischief Reef, part of the disputed Spratly Islands in the South China Sea, west of Palawan, Philippines, on May 11, 2015. Photo by Ritchie Tongo/EPA/Pool

China using 'coercive tactics' in maritime claims – Pentagon

May 14, 2016 - 8:00 AM

In an annual report to Congress the Defense Department outlines China s rapid military growth and describes how it is assertively defending sovereignty claims across the contested East China Sea and South China Sea

EAST CHINA SEA. A file picture dated April 27, 2005 shows an aerial view of Uotsuri Island, one of the disputed Senkaku islands in the East China Sea. File photo by Hiroya Shimoji/EPA

US warship sails by South China Sea reef, irking Beijing

May 10, 2016 - 7:29 PM

UPDATED It is Washington s third freedom of navigation operation in the disputed waters launched in recent months after China built several artificial islands as it asserts claims to nearly all the sea

Top Chinese singer tours disputed South China Sea islands

May 05, 2016 - 12:55 PM

UPDATED Beijing will also carry out annual naval combat drills in the area according to state media

In this file photo, Song Zuying (C) leaves the Great Hall of the People after the opening session of the 11th National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) in Beijing on March 3, 2012. Mark Ralston/AFP

Taiwan gives tour of disputed island, says PH providing 'wrong' info

Mar 23, 2016 - 10:05 PM

Filipino lawyers have provided wrong information misleading the world so we feel we have to come out to rebuff their claims says Taiwan s president

A member of Taiwan's coast guard speaks as he guides visiting journalists on Taiping island in the Spratlys chain in the South China Sea on March 23, 2016. Taiwan on March 23 gave its first ever international press tour of a disputed island in the South China Sea to boost its claim, less than two months after a visit by its leader sparked protests from rival claimants.  / AFP / SAM YEH

Beijing builds radar in South China Sea – think tank

Feb 23, 2016 - 1:50 PM

UPDATED New radar facilities being developed in the Spratlys could significantly change the operational landscape

A satellite photograph showing China’s artificial island on Cuarteron Reef, as of January 24, 2016. Image courtesy CSIS Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative/DigitalGlobe

Taiwan leader defends disputed island visit after US criticism

Jan 28, 2016 - 7:11 PM

UPDATED His trip comes as several other claimants have been beefing up their military presence in the disputed region

MA YING-JEOU. Taiwan President Ma Ying-jeou addresses attendees about South China islands during the Scientific International Seminar on South China inside Howard Civil Service International House in Taipei, Taiwan, January 19, 2016. Photo by Ritchie B. Tongo/EPA

Vietnam warns China over oil rig deployment

Jan 20, 2016 - 2:39 PM

UPDATED The move comes a day before a crucial political transition begins in Hanoi as the communist leadership meets for its 5 yearly congress


Vietnam slams 'erroneous statements' on China island flights

Jan 13, 2016 - 5:18 PM

Hanoi and Beijing s diplomatic row over the South China Sea worsens further

Kagitingan Reef, Fiery Cross Reef

Philippines to protest China's test-flight on Spratlys

Jan 03, 2016 - 4:24 PM

Manila will protest Beijing s test flight of a civilian aircraft on an airstrip it built in the artificial island of Fiery Cross Reef in the South China Sea

FIERY CROSS. Satellite imagery shows changes to Fiery Cross Reef between February and March 2015, including the beginning of an airfield installation. Image courtesy: CNES 2015, Distribution Airbus DS/Spot Image/IHS

US B-52 bombers fly near islands claimed by China

Nov 13, 2015 - 10:27 AM

It is just the latest challenge from Washington to Beijing over the fate of the Spratly Islands after the guided missile destroyer the USS Lassen last month sailed past a series of islets in Subi Reef in the Spratly chain

B-52. A photo dated September 1, 1997 shows a US B-52 Stratofortress bomber in flight. File Photo from EPA/US AIR FORCE

Petilla talks power, ransom demand, US vs China | 6PM wRap

Nov 04, 2015 - 8:11 PM

Watch the 6PM edition of Rappler s newscast The wRap

China vows to continue building on disputed islands, reefs

Oct 10, 2015 - 6:22 PM

Beijing is bolstering its claim to almost all the South China Sea by rapidly building large artificial structures resembling islands straining ties with neighbors

RECLAMATION ACTIVITIES. An aerial photo taken though a glass window of a military plane shows the ongoing reclamation by China on Mischief Reef, part of the disputed Spratly Islands in the South China Sea, west of Palawan, Philippines, on May 11, 2015. Photo by Ritchie Tongo/EPA/Pool

Aquino and the West Philippine Sea: Realpolitk vs. Moralpolitk?

Aug 16, 2015 - 3:30 PM

The Aquino administration’s injection of morality into foreign policy discourse has managed to mobilize the Southeast Asian country against a tough neighbor

SUBJECT OF PROTESTS. A photo obtained by Rappler shows the status of reclamation activities in Keenan (Chigua) Reef in the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea) as of December 12, 2014.

Beijing says South China Sea land reclamation completed

Aug 05, 2015 - 10:00 PM

A diplomatic source says lighthouses medical and emergency rescue facilities and meteorological and marine installations will be constructed next

Subi Reef, Spratly Islands, South China Sea. Photo courtesy of Victor Robert Lee/DigitalGlobe   Photo by Victor Robert Lee/Digital Globe

China's 2nd suspected airstrip 'too close' to PH

Aug 04, 2015 - 5:11 PM

It s alarming in the sense that we have a pending case We are not used to seeing an unfriendly force very near us Kalayaan town mayor Eugenio Bito onon tells Rappler

Subi Reef, Spratly Islands, South China Sea. Photo courtesy of Victor Robert Lee/DigitalGlobe