According to the Philippines, a Chinese-erected floating wall that prevented Philippine fishing boats from entering a disputed region of the South China Sea has been taken down.
According to the Philippine Coast Guard, President Ferdinand Marcos Junior had given the order.
Manila claims that China’s 300-meter (1,000-foot) barrier at the Scarborough Shoal violates its legal right to fish there.
China took control of the shoal in 2012 and claims more than 90% of the South China Sea.
Beijing said that the coast guard’s actions were “necessary measures” and backed them.
“The barrier posed a hazard to navigation, a clear violation of international law. It also hinders the conduct of fishing and livelihood activities of Filipino fisherfolk,” the Philippines coast guard said in a statement.
The shoal was defined as “an integral part of the Philippine national territory”.
The barrier was found on Friday, according to Coast Guard Commodore Jay Tarriela, by a patrol.
The barrier was put in place when the Philippine ship arrived, according to him, by three Chinese coast guard boats and a service boat from the Chinese maritime force.
Prior to departing “once they realized the presence of media personnel on board the [Philippine] vessel,” he added, the Chinese boats issued 15 radio challenges and accused the Philippine ship and fishermen of breaking international and Chinese rules.
The South China Sea, according to Japan, is essential to maintaining regional stability.
“Our country strongly opposes any conduct that heightens tension in the South China Sea,” Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary Hirokazu Matsuno said at a regular press conference.
The South China Sea is a productive fishing area and is thought to contain enormous oil and gas deposits. This region is home to more than half of all fishing boats in the globe.
China has enraged not only the Philippines but also Vietnam, Taiwan, Malaysia, and Brunei with its claims, which include sovereignty over certain land parcels and the waters surrounding them.
China has built islands and conducted naval patrols to support its sweeping claims.
In what it refers to as “freedom of navigation” activities, the US has dispatched military ships and planes close to contested islands despite claiming not to take a position in territorial disputes.
In 2012, Beijing took control of the Scarborough Shoal, forcing Filipino fishermen to travel further for fewer catches.
Later, after former President Rodrigo Duterte restored relations, it permitted the Philippines to fish close.
However, since Ferdinand Marcos Jr. became president last year, hostilities have increased.
Early in 2023, President Marcos Jr. reestablished security relations with the US and expanded access for US troops to Philippine military installations.
This infuriated China since it gave Washington access to an alliance arc extending from South Korea and Japan in the north to Australia in the south.