Manila, Sep 26 (EFE).- The Philippine Coast Guard said that it has removed a 300 meter-long floating barrier that authorities said Beijing put in place to prevent Philippine vessels from entering a lagoon in disputed waters in the South China Sea.
Coast Guard spokesman Jay Tarriela said that the barrier, placed in the southeast entrance of Scarborough Shoal (also known as Bajo de Masinloc or BDM), posed a danger to navigation, which violates international laws.
“It also hinders the conduct of fishing and livelihood activities of Filipino fisherfolk in BDM, which is an integral part of the Philippine national territory,” Tarriela said in a statement on Tuesday.
On Sunday, the Philippine Coast Guard accused Chinese vessels of blocking their fishermen from entering and fishing in the area with the floating barrier in disputed waters at the Scarborough Shoal, which Manila says is within its exclusive economic zone.
On Monday, Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin said that Huangyan Island, the Chinese name for Scarborough, has always been China’s territory, and China has indisputable sovereignty over the island and its adjacent waters and sovereign rights and jurisdiction over relevant waters.
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 archipelagos, a claim that overlaps with the 200-mile exclusive economic zones, under international law, of countries such as the Philippines, Vietnam and Malaysia.
In 2016 the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague sided with Manila in its complaint against the territorial claims of the Chinese authorities, a ruling that the Asian power has refused to abide by.
Tensions between China and the Philippines have increased in recent months, and last week the Philippines government said it was considering filing a new complaint with the Permanent Court of Arbitration, this time over the harvesting and destruction of corals in disputed waters, for which they accuse Chinese ships. EFE