South China Sea: Philippines’ Marcos defends removing Chinese barrier

The Philippines has stood by its removal of China’s barriers in the South China Sea and said it will continue defending its territory.

Beijing has protested the removal of the buoys, heightening a long-running dispute over the Scarborough Shoal.

“They just can’t put barriers in an area that is clearly inside the Philippines,” President Ferdinand Marcos Jr said.

Mr Marcos said the Philippines is “not looking for trouble”.


The Scarborough Shoal is one of several reefs and outcrops in the South China Sea that are claimed by both the Philippines and China.

China’s coast guard has maintained a steady presence in the area since the end of a naval standoff in 2012 and its encounters with Filipino fishing vessels have been a constant source of friction with the Philippines.

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A Chinese foreign ministry official said it had laid down the line of buoys after a Philippine vessel “illegally” entered the shoal, and said it had retrieved the line on Saturday.

However Manila said its Coast Guard members removed it on Wednesday in a “special operation”. Vision shows members diving into the water and cutting the line of buoys underwater.

Mr Marcos said the removal of the buoys allowed Filipino fishermen to catch 164 tonnes of fish in a single day.

On Friday, at a press conference, Philippines Coast Guard members showed reporters the anchor which they said Chinese boats had used to keep the line barrier in place.

They said surveillance trips showed two Chinese ships remained in the area.

“We are not looking for trouble. We will do what is necessary. We will continue defending the Philippines, the maritime territory of the Philippines, the rights of our fishermen in waters where they have fished for centuries,” Mr Marcos said.

“We are staying away from fiery words, but our resolve to defend Philippine territory is strong,” he said.

On Thursday, Washington – with whom Manila has strengthened links this year – also expressed praise for the action which it said was a “bold step in defending their own sovereignty”.

During a congressional hearing, US Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for South and Southeast Asia Lindsey Ford commended the Philippines’ action and reaffirmed Washington’s security commitments to its Asian ally.






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