A recent development in the ongoing maritime dispute between the Philippines and China has seen the removal of a floating barrier installed by China to restrict Filipino fishing activities in a disputed region of the South China Sea. This incident marks another point of tension between Manila and Beijing regarding their conflicting claims in the area.
On Monday, Philippine authorities revealed video footage captured by the Philippine Coast Guard, showing a Filipino diver engaged in the removal of a 300-meter (984-feet) long string of buoys near Bajo de Masinloc, also known as Scarborough Shoal. This shoal, a relatively small yet strategically significant reef and abundant fishing area, is situated approximately 130 miles (200 kilometers) west of Luzon, a Philippine island.
In the video, the Filipino diver is seen wearing basic diving gear, including a mask and snorkel, as they submerge beneath the water’s surface to cut through the ropes securing the barrier. This operation was carried out on a precarious fishing boat manned by a small crew.
This footage serves as a poignant representation of the ongoing power struggle in the South China Sea, where Manila has been actively resisting Beijing’s increasingly assertive claims over this disputed and vital maritime region.
According to Philippine authorities, the installation of the barrier occurred shortly after a Philippine government vessel arrived in the area. Allegedly, three Chinese Coast Guard boats, along with a Chinese maritime militia service boat, were responsible for setting up the barrier.
In response to this incident, the Philippine Coast Guard issued a statement on Monday, asserting that the barrier constituted a hazard to navigation, thus violating international law. Additionally, the statement emphasized that this action encroached upon Philippine sovereignty, further escalating the tensions in the South China Sea.