The Philippines has said China should respect an international tribunal’s rejection of its claims in the South China Sea.
It came after Chinese aircraft landed on disputed reefs and Beijing’s coastguard reportedly blocked a Filipino fishing boat from a contested shoal, in acts of defiance after a landmark ruling found China’s claims in the South China Sea legally baseless.
Vietnam officials also yesterday said the recent Chinese actions seriously violated their sovereignty.
Chinese state media reported two Chinese civilian aircraft had landed successfully on two newly built airstrips on Mischief and Subi reefs. China also said it had completed four lighthouses on disputed reefs and was launching a fifth.
In the Philippines, ABS-CBN TV network reported that Chinese coastguard ships had blocked a Filipino fishing boat from approaching the disputed Scarborough Shoal.
It said Chinese personnel on two speedboats approached and encircled the Filipino boat which was carrying a reporter and local fishermen. One video the network aired showed the Filipino boat being tailed by a Chinese coast guard ship in an area Zambrano said was a few miles from Scarborough, where the local fishermen were blocked from entering to fish.
Another video showed the Chinese personnel riding in a speedboat, using a bullhorn and ordering the Filipinos to leave “this area immediately”.
Arsenia Lim, mayor of the northwestern Philippine town of Masinloc, where the fishermen live, said they sailed to Scarborough to test China’s compliance with the ruling.
He said: “What they’re doing is bad because it shows as if there is no law. Our government should defend the livelihood of these people because it’s the only place where they get their income.”
The ruling from the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague, Netherlands, earlier this week was based on the 1982 UN Convention on the Law of the Seas, which both China and the Philippines have ratified. The Philippines brought the case to arbitration in 2013 after witnessing China’s activities in Scarborough and elsewhere in the sea, which is rich with fish and potential energy resources.
Beijing boycotted the case entirely and declared the ruling null and void.