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HomeWorldAsiaPhilippines pledges to remove "floating barriers" in the South China Sea

Philippines pledges to remove “floating barriers” in the South China Sea

Philippine authorities on Monday promised to remove floating barriers blocking Filipino fishing boats from accessing the Scarborough Shoal, a disputed lagoon in the South China Sea, according to The Independent.

Chinese Coast Guard vessels installed a 300-metre barrier on Friday when more than 50 Filipino fishing vessels were outside the shallow waters, the Philippine Coast Guard reported.

Philippine national security adviser Eduardo Ano commented on the situation:

We condemn the installation of floating barriers by the Chinese coast guard. The placement by the People’s Republic of China of a barrier violates the traditional fishing rights of our fishermen.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin said that the shoal and its surrounding waters are “China’s inherent territory” where Beijing “has indisputable sovereignty.” He noted that on 22 September, a Philippine government fishing vessel “trespassed into the waters” without Chinese permission and “attempted to intrude into the lagoon.”

“China’s coast guard took the necessary measures to stop and warn off the ship in accordance with the law, which was professional and with restraint.”

This maritime region has long been considered a potential hotspot and fault line in the US-China rivalry.

Washington does not claim the sea passage, but US Navy ships and fighter jets have been patrolling for decades to challenge China’s expansive claims and promote freedom of navigation and flight. China demanded that the United States stop interfering in “purely Asian” affairs.

Beijing seized Scarborough Shoal in 2012, forcing fishermen from the Philippines to change their fishing route. The Chinese-made barrier prevents Filipinos from entering the fish-rich lagoon, said Philippine Coast Guard spokesman Commodore Jay Tarriela.

We have to be very careful (not to commit) any diplomatic misstep. It’s an illegal and illegitimate action coming from the People’s Republic of China. Definitely it affects our food security.


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