Politics

Philippines accuses China of using ‘floating barrier’ near disputed South China Sea shoal

Manila, Sep 25 (EFE).- The Philippines’ national security adviser (NSA), Eduardo Año, said on Monday that the country would take “all appropriate actions” to eliminate the “floating barriers” placed by China to prevent Filipinos from fishing near the Scarborough Shoal, an area in the South China Sea claimed by both countries.

“We condemn the installation of floating barriers by CCG (China Coast Guard) in BDM (Bajo de Masinloc). The placement by the People’s Republic of China of a barrier violates the traditional fishing rights of our fishermen whose rights have been affirmed by the 2016 Arbitral Ruling,” Año said in a statement, the Philippine news agency reported.

He was referring a 2016 ruling by the Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) at the Hague stating that Filipinos have the right to fish in the area, a decision that Beijing refused to accept.

Año added that Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. had been informed of the situation and that the country would take all appropriate actions to protect the “rights of Filipinos who have been fishing there for centuries”.

The NSA accused Chinese vessels of blocking Filipino fishermen on Sunday with a “floating barrier” about 300 meters long in disputed waters at the Scarborough Shoal, located within the exclusive economic area of the Philippines as per Manila.

China occupied the shoal in 2012 and blocked the entry to Filipino fishing vessels, but relaxed the ban when former Philippine president Rodrigo Duterte began a policy of rapprochement with China in 2016.

However, after assuming office in 2022, Marcos Jr has strengthened defense ties with the United States and raised the rhetoric against Beijing over sovereignty claims in the South China Sea.

Chinese authorities claim almost the entire South China Sea, including the Paracel and Spratly Islands, which overlap with the 200-mile exclusive economic areas of the Philippines, Vietnam and Malaysia, among other countries.

Beijing claims historic reasons to justify its claims, and has refused to accept the ruling by the PCA.

Tensions between China and the Philippines have risen in recent months. Manila said last week that it was considering filing a new complaint with the PCA over coral loss in disputed waters, a problem attributed to Chinese vessels. EFE

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