Philippines to remove China-imposed barrier in South China Sea – National Security Adviser

Chinese Coast Guard boats near a floating barrier are pictured near Scarborough Shoal

Chinese coast guard boats approach a floating barrier near Scarborough Shoal in the South China Sea on Sept. 20, 2023 in this handout photo released by the Philippine Coast Guard on Sept. 24, 2023. Philippine Coast Guard / Handout via REUTERS / File Photo Licensing rights obtained.

  • The Philippines has condemned China’s floating barrier near the disputed shoal.
  • The Philippines says the blockade is a violation of Filipinos’ fishing rights.

MANILA, Sept 25 (Reuters) – The Philippines will take “all appropriate measures to remove obstacles” in a disputed area of ​​the South China Sea, the country’s national security adviser said on Monday.

The Philippines on Sunday shared photos of a floating barrier blocking access to fishing vessels in Scarborough Shoal with nearby Chinese coast guard vessels and said it would protect the rights of its fishermen.

“We condemn the installation of floating barriers by the Chinese coast guard,” National Security Adviser Eduardo Año said in a statement.

“The imposition of a barrier by the People’s Republic of China violates the traditional fishing rights of our fishermen,” he added.

The country’s Foreign Ministry said on Monday that the blockades were a violation of international law and that the Philippines would “take all appropriate measures to protect the sovereignty of our country and the livelihood of our fishermen”.

The Chinese embassy in Manila did not respond to requests for comment.

China claims 90 percent of the South China Sea, overlapping with the exclusive economic zones of Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei, Indonesia and the Philippines. Beijing seized Scarborough Shoal in 2012, forcing Philippine fishermen to travel further for smaller catches.

Philippine Coast Guard and Fisheries Bureau personnel discovered the floating debris, estimated to be 300 meters (1,000 feet) long, during a routine patrol near the shoal on Friday, according to Coast Guard spokesman Commodore J. Tariella.

“We have to be very careful of any diplomatic mistakes,” Tarrella said in a radio interview Monday before the government’s comments, when asked if the Coast Guard planned to remove the barrier.

According to Filipino fishermen, the Chinese coast guard usually puts up such barriers when they monitor large numbers of fishermen in the area, then removes them later, Tareila said.

Reporting by Enrico Dela Cruz; Editing by Kanopriya Kapoor

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