China continues to harass Filipino fisherfolk in Scarborough Shoal, said report by Admiral Philip S. Davidson, commander of the U.S. Indo-Pacific Command in a statement released on February 12.
“Chinese Coast Guard vessels now fall under the command of the Central Military Commission and regularly harass and intimidate fishing vessels from our treaty ally, the Philippines, operating near Scarborough Reef, as well as the fishing fleets of other regional nations,” the report said.
Aside from that, Beijing has also “landed military transport aircraft on the Spratly Islands and long-range bombers on the Paracel Islands.”
The report elaborated how Beijing continues to disregard international law by maintaining territorial claims on South China Sea.
“Beijing ignored the 2016 ruling of an Arbitral Tribunal established under Annex VII of the Law of the Sea Convention, which concluded that China’s claims to historic rights, or other sovereign rights or jurisdiction, with respect to the maritime areas of the South China Sea encompassed by the “nine-dash line” are contrary to UNCLOS and without legal effect,” the report also said.
Davidson noted that “These actions run directly counter to President Xi’s 2015 commitment not to militarize these features.”
News reports from GMA News and The Philippine Daily Inquirer have offered a history of China’s attacks against Filipino fishermen.
According to these reports, a Chinese coast guard vessel was caught taking “best catch of Filipino fishermen in the area” last year.”
In another incident, China stopped a group of Filipinos from filming the Panatag Shoal.
According to GMA News, these incidents were dismissed by the Duterte administration in an effort to appease China as “a form of barter trade between the Filipinos and the Chinese.”
Inquirer reported that “China seized control of the shoal in 2012 after a tense standoff with the Philippine Navy, which later prompted the Philippines to file a case against China before the international arbitration court.”
Court ruling in 2016 said Scarborough Shoal should be shared by the countries that surround it.
Despite the verdict, China continues to seize the Philippine waters.