The Philippines says there is no standoff with China after the removal of the floating barrier in the South China Sea.

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 by REUTERS Licensing rights.

MANILA, Sept 26 (Reuters) – The Philippines said on Tuesday that China’s coast guard had removed the remains of a floating barrier dismantled by its Philippine counterparts off the coast of the South China Sea, adding that there was no No signs of stalling or aggression.

The Philippines launched a “special operation” on Monday to cut a 300-meter barrier installed by China on the Scarborough Shoal, one of Asia’s most disputed maritime features, in a move to There are likely to be more tensions that have worsened over the past year. .

The Chinese coast guard’s measurements were taken in response to a Philippine ship that approached the reef, the closest it has been since China took control in 2012, according to Coast Guard spokesman Commodore J. Tarilla. .

The Philippine Coast Guard, disguised as regular fishermen in a small boat, later cut the ball buoy barrier and lifted the anchor, Tariella told DWPM radio and ANC news channel.

He said four Chinese coast guard ships were in the area and were not “so aggressive” seeing the media on the Philippine ship.

The Chinese removed the barricade, hours after discovering it was no longer aligned and blocking the lake, Tariella said.

Scarborough Shoal, an important fishing ground about 200 kilometers (124 miles) from the Philippines and within its exclusive economic zone, has been the site of a decades-long dispute over sovereignty.

China did not directly mention the obstruction on Monday but said the coast guard had moved to turn back a Philippine ship that was “intruding” on its waters.

The Philippines and China have repeatedly clashed over the shoal, but tensions were low for years under the previous pro-Chinese administration in Manila.

Relations have soured in the past year, however, as President Ferdinand Marcos Jr., who authorized the siege, has been trying to forge tougher defense ties with ally the United States, including access to his country’s military bases.

China claims ownership of almost all of the South China Sea, including the Scarborough Shoal, despite a 2016 arbitration ruling that said it was unfounded. China does not recognize this decision.

Speaking to reporters on Tuesday about the removal of the barrier, Philippine Foreign Secretary Enrique Manalo said the move is in line with the country’s stance on the South China Sea.

“Technically, we had the right to exercise our rights of sovereignty and self-determination so that would have been consistent with our position,” he said.

Reporting by Neil Jerome Morales; Edited by Martin Petty

Our Standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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