Chinese vessel spotted near Luconia Shoals on June 4, four days after MMEA intercepts military aircraft

A screengrab of Google Earth indicating the distance of Luconia Shoals from the Miri coastline.

KUCHING, June 8: A China Coast Guard (CCG) vessel was detected near the waters of Beting Patinggi Ali or widely known as the Luconia Shoals on June 4, four days after 16 China military aircraft flew near the same area located about 84 nautical miles off the coast of Miri.

Malaysia Maritime Enforcement Agency (MMEA) Miri head Captain Md Fauzi Othman has yesterday (June 7) confirmed that they have received a report on the CCG vessel encroaching into Borneo waters on June 4.

According to a local daily, Md Fauzi gave assurance that MMEA assets including that of the Royal Malaysian Navy (TLDM) have been monitoring the situation closely.

“The assets are placed near Beting Patinggi Ali all year round to monitor the area to ensure the sovereignty of the country,” he added.

Meanwhile, the CCG vessel encroachment came after the Royal Malaysian Air Force (RMAF) scrambled jets to intercept 16 Chinese military aircraft off the country’s Borneo coast in the South China Sea on June 1.

The Chinese air force transport planes had approached Malaysian airspace in a ‘tactical formation’ and flew within 60 nautical miles of the coast, according to a statement from RMAF.

Local fishermen have over the years reported sightings of CCG vessels at Beting Patinggi Ali, one of the largest and least-known reef complexes in the South China Sea.

The authorities had previously confirmed that the CCG has had a vessel anchored in the area since 2013.

However, the MMEA has not had any confrontation with China near Beting Patinggi Ali which is part of a longstanding maritime dispute between China and several countries, including Malaysia. — DayakDaily