The dispute around the atoll Scarborough Shoal, An old, unhealed wound keeps relations between the Philippines and China strained. Despite Chinese warnings, this week the Philippine Coast Guard has urged local fishermen to continue their operations in the area, called by Manila as Bajo de Masinloc, an area in the West Philippine Sea where the fishing does not stop. litigation. The call comes even with the presence of Chinese vessels and after a recent incident with a 300-meter floating barrier installed by the Chinese coast guard. This defense was later withdrawn by the Philippine coast guard, by order of President Ferdinand Marcos, a drastic action that triggered an immediate reprimand from the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
Beijing has warned Manila not to “trouble up the situation” after the Philippine coast guard removed the floating barrier in the disputed reef, which China had deployed to prevent Filipinos from accessing the traditional fishing ground, within the economic zone itself. exclusive (EEZ) of your country. “China firmly defends the sovereignty and maritime rights and interests of Huangyan Island,” said the Foreign Ministry spokesperson. Wang Wenbin, referring to the coral bank by its Chinese name. “We warn Filipinos not to provoke or stir up trouble,” she said.
Philippine authorities had previously announced that they would take “all appropriate measures” to remove obstacles, which they say endanger their fishermen fishing in the “Scarborough Shoal.”
China’s claim to almost 90% of the sea surface is sparking territorial disputes with the coastal states of Southeast Asia and fueling tensions with the United States, its rival in the region. In the last decade, The Asian giant has filled in numerous artificial islands in the area and has converted them into military bases.
Just as anxiety over nearby Taiwan has focused attention on deteriorating relations between Washington and Beijing, the South China Sea offers another arena for a potential contest, as neither side appears willing to budge. . Beijing’s increasingly repressive attitude towards the ships and aircraft of other States in the disputed areas increases the risk of accidents, and apparently could quickly lead to a military confrontation.
The name Scarborough Shoal was first used by the British after their merchant ship of the same name shipwrecked in this area on September 12, 1748 when he was heading to China. Claiming its historical rights as one of the first people to explore the area, Beijing claimed this maritime feature as part of its territory and decided to name it Huangyan (Yellow Rock) Island.
As defined by the United Nations Commission on the Law of the Sea, Scarborough Shoal is within Manila’s EEZ because it is located 120 nautical miles (222 km) from the Philippine island of Luzon. In contrast, the sandbar is located about 594 nautical miles (1,100 km) from the Chinese island of Hainan.
In the 1990s, China undertook the construction of structures on coral reefs and islets within the Philippines’ exclusive economic zone (EEZ) in the West Philippine Sea. This move sparked the Philippine government’s strongest protest: an arbitration over the Scarborough Shoal dispute in 2012. But in return, China “flexed its military muscle further” and intrusions continued with impunity.
The Philippine government won the case brought before the Permanent Court of Arbitration in 2016, which ruled that Manila has exclusive sovereign rights over the West Philippine Sea and that China’s claim on the nine-dash line was at best , fictitious and lacked legal basis. Despite this, Chinese defensive actions continued. Former Philippine ruler Rodrigo Duterte, pressed to enforce the arbitration award, described it as just a piece of paper that you can throw in the trash, echoing comments from the Chinese government. During his presidency, Duterte repeatedly refused to actively assert Philippine sovereignty over the WPS strips, stating that his country cannot win a war against China, a resignation statement that was roundly condemned and questioned by critics of his policy-oriented to China.
The Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative (AMTI), which closely follows the development of the situation in the region, stated that the Chinese deployment of radars, anti-ship and anti-aircraft missile platforms and fighter jets in its outposts in said space, has greatly expanded its ability to project power in waters far from its own coast.
Notably, China’s only port for its fleet of ballistic missile submarines – the Yulin Naval Base – is located on the southern side of Hainan Island, making the South China Sea a vital stronghold for nuclear deterrence. China’s strategic
It is difficult to imagine a more important, strategic and contentious body of water than the South China Sea. About a third of the world’s crude oil exports are transported by sea through it, and the most important sea routes for transporting goods and raw materials from Europe and Africa to Asia pass through it. In addition, it has rich fishing resources and it is suspected that there are large oil and gas deposits. Its reefs and atolls are claimed not only by China, but also by the neighboring states of Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei, the Philippines and Taiwan, and their respective exclusive economic zones completely or partially overlap.