HomeWorldAsiaPhilippines Should Not 'Cause Trouble' In South China Sea, Says China

Philippines Should Not ‘Cause Trouble’ In South China Sea, Says China

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China warned the Philippines on Tuesday not to “provoke and cause trouble” in the South China Sea, a day after Manila removed a floating barrier erected by Beijing to restrict fishing activities in the disputed Scarborough Shoal.

Manila launched a “special operation” to remove the cordon on Monday, following the orders of President Ferdinand Marcos Jr., who has been vocal in his opposition to Beijing’s expansionist moves in the South China Sea.

“China firmly upholds the sovereignty and maritime rights of Huangyan Island, and we advise the Philippines side not to provoke and cause trouble,” Wang Wenbin, a foreign ministry spokesperson, said on Tuesday during a regular press briefing, referring to the shoal by its Chinese name.

Scarborough Shoal is one of the South China Sea’s most contested areas. The location is about 200 kilometres off the coast of the Philippines and is within the Southeast Asian country’s exclusive economic zone (EEZ).

Tensions are high after the Philippines chastised the Chinese coast guard for “illegal, aggressive, and destabilising” behaviour towards Manila’s mission to resupply a military vessel in the South China Sea earlier this month. In response, Beijing accused the Philippines of “illegal intrusion” into the waters.

China’s actions, according to Julio Amador, CEO of Philippine investment advisory firm Amador Research Services, are “blatantly illegal.” The Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague ruled in 2016 that Beijing’s claim to 90% of the South China Sea was unfounded, but it did not rule on sovereignty over the Scarborough Shoal.

“China should stop doing things like this because these activities only increase negative perceptions from the Philippines about China,” Amador said, adding that Manila should lodge a diplomatic protest with Beijing and “record the incident as a violation of the 2016 arbitral award.”

The Philippines announced on Friday that it was considering legal action against China after accusing Beijing of destroying coral reefs within its exclusive economic zone (EEZ). China brushed off the statement as “political drama.”

Solicitor General Menardo Guevarra, the Philippines’ primary counsel, told Nikkei Asia on Friday that his team was in the fact-finding and data-gathering stages, and that “filing a new complaint before an international tribunal is just one of the legal options.”

China’s regional ambitions are clear, according to Don McLain Gill, an analyst and lecturer at De La Salle University in Manila. “Beijing is seeking to solidify its de facto regional exclusionary policy against Southeast Asian and extra-regional countries,” he stated. “Hence, the specific barrier development is merely one small element in its overarching exclusionary ambitions.”

Beijing already raised eyebrows in August when it released a “standard” map that included most of the South China Sea within its contentious “nine-dash line.” Several Asian countries, including India, Malaysia, Taiwan, Vietnam, and the Philippines, rejected the map.

The Philippines, according to Gill, is “a critical component in China’s ability to box the US out of the South China Sea.”

“However, with Manila demonstrating greater determination to defend its sovereignty and sovereign rights through multifaceted media strategies, Beijing is also faced with a critical predicament in advancing its ambition while also attempting to present itself as a responsible leader based on its Global Security Initiative,” Gill added, referring to Beijing’s plan for an alternative to the US-led international order.

Info source – Nikkei Asia

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