China re-deploys floating barrier in disputed shoal in the South China Sea

China has again deployed a floating barrier at the entrance of Scarborough Shoal, where it has a sovereignty dispute with the Philippines in the South China Sea

3 mins read
China re-deploys floating barrier in disputed shoal in the South China Sea

According to the statement made by the Philippine Coast Guard, the mouth of the offshore shelter, which is surrounded by a triangular shaped seawall, was closed with a floating barrier by Chinese Coast Guard vessels.

Coast Guard spokesman Jay Tarriela said Chinese vessels and a patrol vessel of the Philippine Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources made “obstructive maneuvers” 1.3 nautical miles (about 2.4 kilometers) off the area on February 21, after which the barrier was deployed.

Spokesperson Tarriela noted that they had removed the barrier as in previous cases.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Mao Ning also confirmed the placement of the barrier at a press conference in Beijing, arguing that it was a “necessary measure”.

Scarborough Shoal

Scarborough Shoal is located 120 nautical miles (222 kilometers) from Luzon Island in the northern Philippines in the eastern South China Sea.

The shoal, called “Panatag” by the Philippines and “Huangyan” by the Chinese, is still a region where the two countries display their conflicting sovereignty claims through navigation activities.

On September 25, 2023, the Philippine Coast Guard announced the removal of the 300-meter-long floating barrier installed at the southeast entrance of the Chinese-controlled sea bend, sending the message that they would not accept any Chinese obstruction in the region.

The Chinese Foreign Ministry described the removal of the floating barrier as “a farce in which the Philippines entertained itself”, and about two weeks later, on October 10, 2023, it announced that the warship of the Philippine Navy had been removed from the waters around Scarborough Shoal, emphasizing that China’s control in the region continued.

South China Sea dispute

The South China Sea has been at the center of sovereignty disputes between the countries in the region since the end of the Second World War, when the littoral states gained their independence.

While China claims sovereignty over 80 percent of the South China Sea with the map it first published in 1947, the Philippines, Vietnam, Brunei and Malaysia also claim rights in the region rich in underground resources.

China’s construction of bases on the disputed islands in the region and its presence with its military elements as well as civilian ship fleets are opposed by the US as well as the countries in the region.

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