Malaysia's Borneo Post reported Wednesday that a patrol boat of the China Coast Guard had been detected encroaching on the waters surrounding the Luconia Shoals, which are administered by Malaysia but also claimed by China and Taiwan. The vessel has been anchored in the area for about two years.
Datuk Seri Shahidan Kassim, an official in Malaysia's prime minister's department, said they have sent vessels from the Royal Malaysian Navy and Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency to monitor the area around the clock "to ensure the sovereignty of the country."
He added that the area belongs to Malaysia and that the government will do whatever it takes to protect and defend Malaysian waters in the South China Sea from being encroached on by intruders or unlicensed foreign fisherman.
The Shanghai-based Guancha Syndicate has identified the Chinese vessel as the Haijing 1123 patrol boat and said that it had been involved in a "confrontation" with Malaysian maritime vessels near the Qiongtai Jiao — or Luconia Breakers — of the Luconia Shoals, which it states is a piece of Chinese territory Malaysia has long claimed.
Qiongtai Jiao, which sits in the central part of the Luconia Shoals, is about 170 meters long and 20 meters wide, though during high tide less than half of the reef is visible above water. Guancha says the reef is among China's southernmost territory and claims that it has been effectively under Beijing's control since April.
The territorial dispute is just one of many involving China in the South China Sea, where tensions have been escalating due to China's aggressive land reclamation activities on disputed islands and increased US surveillance and military presence in the region.
The Malaysia has confirmed for the first time that the China Coast Guard vessel identified as Haijing (1123) has been anchored on Luconia Shoals since 2013, refusing to depart despite repeated secret negotiations and unpublished diplomatic protests. The shoals are just 100 kilometers off Sarawak.