South China Sea Dispute: Philippines Removes Chinese Barrier in Disputed Zone

South China Sea Dispute: According to the Philippines, it has taken down the floating wall that China had installed to keep Filipino fishing vessels out of the disputed region in the South China Sea. The Filipino Coast Guard stated that it received instructions to take this action from President Ferdinand Marcos Jr.

Manila alleges that China violated its fishing rights with the presence of a 300-meter (1,000-foot) barrier in Scarborough Shoal. China claims jurisdiction over more than 90% of the South China Sea and assumed control of the shoal in 2012.

According to Beijing, their actions were “necessary measures” to safeguard its coastguards. The Philippine Coast Guard claimed in a statement that this obstruction was a danger to navigation, blatantly broke international law, and made it difficult for Filipino fisherman to make a living.

They described the shoal as an “integral part of Philippine national territory.” Commodore J. Tariela, head of the Coast Guard, revealed that a patrol team discovered the blockade on Friday. Upon the arrival of a Philippine vessel, three Chinese coast guard ships and one Chinese maritime militia service ship obstructed their path.

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Tensions escalated further when Chinese vessels issued 15 radio challenges and accused the Philippine vessel and fishermen of violating international and Chinese laws.

Japan’s Chief Cabinet Secretary Hirokazu Matsuno stated in a regular press conference, “Our country strongly opposes any conduct that increases tension in the South China Sea.”

What is the South China Sea Dispute?

The South China Sea is known for its rich diversity of various fishes and is known for its excellent grounds for fishing. It is also believed that it holds a significant amount of oil and gas. Around half of the world’s fishing takes place in this part of the sea. This part of the sea is claimed by many countries like Philippines, Vietnam, Taiwan, Malaysia, and Brunei and have overlapping territories.

China has announced a campaign for “freedom of navigation” while defending its expansive claims through land reclamation and naval patrols. In 2012, Beijing seized Scarborough Shoal, forcing Filipino fishermen to travel farther for their livelihoods.

Relations improved after an understanding was reached during the presidency of Rodrigo Duterte, allowing Filipino fishing in the vicinity. However, tensions have escalated since the election of President Ferdinand Marcos Jr.

President Marcos Jr. has revitalized security relations with the United States, granting broader access to American troops in Philippine military facilities starting in 2023. This has irked China because the Philippines, with its substantial American presence, forms part of a coalition of alliances that stretches from South Korea and Japan in the north to Australia in the south. Source: BBC

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