Philippines remove barrier in South China Sea

MANILA – The Philippine government has removed a floating barrier that China had installed to block Philippine fishing boats from entering a disputed area in the South China Sea, the Philippine Coast Guard said on Monday.

The barrier, which was made of steel pipes and fishing nets, stretched for 300 meters (1,000 feet) across the mouth of the Scarborough Shoal, a rich fishing ground that China seized from the Philippines in 2012 after a tense standoff.

The Philippine Coast Guard said it had received orders from President Ferdinand Marcos Jr., who took office in June 2022, to dismantle the barrier and assert the country’s fishing rights in the area.

Marcos, the son of former dictator Ferdinand Marcos, has vowed to pursue an independent foreign policy and defend the Philippines’ sovereignty and territorial integrity in the face of China’s expansive claims in the South China Sea.

China claims more than 90% of the South China Sea, where it has built artificial islands, military bases, and other structures to assert its control. The Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei, and Taiwan have overlapping claims with China in the strategic waterway.

China’s coast guard said on Tuesday that it had taken “necessary measures” to safeguard China’s sovereignty and security in the Scarborough Shoal, and urged the Philippines to respect China’s rights and interests. (ZI)