Pagasa Island resupply mission to South China Sea

Unexploded Philippine munitions lie scattered in the sea off the southern island of Palawan


A resupply mission to an artificial island in the South China Sea is planned for Sunday, despite an international arbitration ruling against China’s South China Sea claim.

An MV-22 Osprey troop transport and a C-130 Hercules transport aircraft with two C-130 Commando Combat Air Teams will depart Manila Bay.

The force is part of the routine rotation of troops for humanitarian operations to relief victims, the army said.

In July a court found that Beijing had no historic rights to the South China Sea, which is also claimed by US allies including the Philippines.

China has been building seven man-made islands in the Spratly archipelago, which it claims as its own.

The purpose of the cargo mission is to deliver medicine, water and construction materials to Pagasa Island, about 600km (370 miles) south of the main Philippine island of Luzon.

But Manila hopes it will mark an unofficial pause in its efforts to mount maritime operations and build up its naval and coastguard to combat Chinese intrusions.

The mission also follows last month’s confirmation that the Philippines’ European allies are dispatching vessels to the disputed Spratlys in support of the Philippines.

China claims sovereignty over virtually the entire South China Sea. But the 12-member Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague rejected its sweeping claims in July, saying that China had no historic rights to the South China Sea.

China did not acknowledge the ruling but has said it will abide by the court’s decision.

United States has led a campaign of “freedom of navigation” patrols in the sea. It also operates warship and aircraft carrier-based aircraft in the region.

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