China's Dominance

Filipino Activists Sail to Disputed Shoal, Defying China in South China Sea Standoff

Main image to the post Filipino Activists Sail to Disputed Shoal, Defying China in South China Sea Standoff

A Flotilla of Filipino Activists Sail to Disputed Shoal in the South China Sea

A flotilla of approximately 100 small fishing boats led by Filipino activists set sail on Wednesday towards a disputed shoal in the South China Sea. This action comes in response to recent incidents where Chinese coast guard and suspected militia ships used powerful water cannons to deter what they perceive as intruders.

The Philippine coast guard and navy deployed one patrol ship each to monitor the activists and fishermen from a distance. These individuals embarked on their journey in wooden boats equipped with bamboo outriggers, aiming to assert Manila's sovereignty over the Scarborough Shoal. Dozens of journalists joined the three-day voyage.

The activists and volunteers, including a Roman Catholic priest, belong to a non-governmental coalition called Atin Ito, which translates to "This is Ours" in Tagalog. Organizers stated that their mission is peaceful and based on international law. They plan to float small territorial buoys, distribute food packs, and provide fuel to Filipino fishermen near the shoal. They also expressed preparedness for any contingencies that may arise.

"Our mission is peaceful based on international law and aimed at asserting our sovereign rights," said Rafaela David, a lead organizer. "We will sail with determination, not provocation, to civilianize the region and safeguard our territorial integrity."

This action by Filipino activists is the latest development in the ongoing territorial disputes in the South China Sea. China effectively seized control of the Scarborough Shoal in 2012, sparking tensions with the Philippines and other claimant states. The Philippines challenged China's actions through international arbitration in 2013, ultimately winning a favorable ruling from a tribunal in The Hague. However, China continues to defy the ruling and maintain its presence in the disputed waters.

The recent use of water cannons by Chinese vessels against Philippine boats has further escalated tensions in the region. The Philippines has condemned these actions, while China maintains that its coast guard acted appropriately in response to alleged violations of its sovereignty.

The increasing frequency of skirmishes between the Philippines and China has raised concerns about the potential for an armed conflict. The United States, a treaty ally of the Philippines, has expressed its support for Manila and warned against any escalation of tensions.

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May 21, 2023 | 05:09