HomeTrendingPhilippines president warns China, vows to defend territory in South China Sea

Philippines president warns China, vows to defend territory in South China Sea

A dispute with China over access to a vital South China Sea shoal is simmering, but the Philippines’ president said on Friday that his country will vigorously defend its sovereignty and the rights of its fishermen and is not looking for trouble.

This Monday, the Philippine coastguard announced that it had destroyed a 300-meter (980-foot) floating Chinese barrier that had been blocking access to the contentious Scarborough Shoal, which Beijing has ruled over for more than ten years.

In his opening remarks following the most recent flare-up, Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. stated that his country was defending its legal right to fish in its exclusive economic zone.

“What we will do is to continue defending the Philippines, the maritime territory of the Philippines, the rights of our fishermen to catch fish in areas where they are doing it for hundreds of years already,” Marcos told the media.

The Philippine account of events has been challenged by the Chinese coast guard, but the United States has supported its ally Manila, calling its action a “bold step” and reiterating its treaty commitments to safeguard its former territory.

“Many of these are operational issues and that I really cannot talk about. But in terms of taking down the barrier, I don’t see what else we could do,” Marcos said.

Recent deterioration in relations between the Philippines and China is largely attributable to Marcos’ efforts to strengthen defence ties with Washington, especially by offering wider access to American troops for both humanitarian and training purposes.

“The president is really sincere with his commitment that we’re not going to surrender an inch of our territory to any foreign power,” coastguard spokesperson Commodore Jay Tarriela said during a press conference.

Scarborough Shoal, which China claims to be its land, has come under fire from China for what it sees as American provocations in the area.

According to Tarriela, the Philippines have noticed a decrease in Chinese activity in the shoal after the floating barrier was dismantled.

In contrast to the seven Chinese warships that were visible last week, Tarriela stated that three Chinese coastguard ships and one maritime militia ship were visible from an inspection flight on Thursday.

Two Filipino fishing boats were in the shoal, but he said that it was still difficult to get into the lagoon.