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Philippines Removes China’s Floating Barrier in South China Sea Dispute

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By: Sheras Fernandes
Philippines Removes China’s Floating Barrier in South China Sea Dispute

The Philippine government has taken a decisive step against what it perceives as an infringement on its fishing rights by China in the South China Sea. A 300-meter floating barrier installed by China was removed by the Philippines, marking a significant move in a territorial dispute that has been brewing for years. The barrier was positioned in the Scarborough Shoal, a contested area that has been a focal point of tension between the two nations.

In a bid to uphold its rights and assert its claims, the Philippines Coast Guard executed the operation to dismantle the barrier. Video footage released by the Coast Guard appears to show a diver cutting an underwater rope that was attached to white buoys, indicating the removal of the barrier’s anchor.

(Read Also: Resourcefulness at Sea: The Philippines Coast Guard Overcomes Obstacles in South China Sea)

China’s territorial claim over the South China Sea is expansive, covering more than 90% of the region. It gained control over the Scarborough Shoal in 2012, a move that has been a pillar of contention in the current dispute. The South China Sea is a strategic and resource-rich water body, and territorial claims over it have led to conflicts involving not just China and the Philippines but also Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei, Indonesia, and Taiwan.

Significance of the Scarborough Shoal

The Scarborough Shoal, also known as the Bajo de Masinloc, is a crucial point in this dispute. The shoal is within the 200 nautical mile (370km) exclusive economic zone (EEZ) of the Philippines as defined by international maritime law. Despite this, China has been asserting its control over the area, referring to the Scarborough Shoal as Huangyan Island and claiming it as part of its territory. The recent installation of the floating barrier by China was seen as a direct violation of the Philippines’ fishing rights and a breach of international law.

(Read Also: China’s Constructive Role in Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation: An In-depth Analysis)

Implications of the Barrier Removal

The removal of the barrier by the Philippines is more than just a symbolic gesture. It represents a clear stand against what the Philippines views as China’s violation of its sovereignty and its fishing rights. This act could potentially escalate tensions in the region, given the strategic importance of the South China Sea and the intense territorial disputes surrounding it.

Looking Ahead

While the removal of the barrier marks a significant moment in the South China Sea dispute, it is unlikely to bring a resolution to the conflict. The territorial claims over this region are deeply rooted and involve several nations, making it a complex issue to navigate. However, actions like these serve to underscore the importance of upholding international law and respecting the sovereignty and rights of nations. They also highlight the necessity for open dialogue and diplomatic negotiation in resolving such disputes.

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