June 23, 2024

South China Sea: Disagreement between China and the Philippines – News


The issue of the use of the marine area has been controversial for years. Beijing is sticking to its power play in the region.

It’s all about this: The long-running dispute over maritime boundaries in the South China Sea between China and the Philippines is approaching its climax. There are calls in the Philippines to expel Chinese diplomats over a phone conversation between a Chinese diplomat and a Filipino admiral that was published by China. The Philippine Foreign Ministry wants to investigate the incident. The latter is said to have made concessions to the Chinese in order to calm the situation. More recently, there was an incident at the end of April, where two Chinese Coast Guard vessels fired on a Philippine Coast Guard vessel with water cannons. There was property damage.


The most recent incident occurred at the end of April: a Chinese Coast Guard ship fired water cannons at a Filipino ship that was trying to supply fishermen about 230 kilometers off the coast.


More intense pace: The tone between the two governments has worsened recently – especially since the arrival of a new man, Ferdinand Marcos Jr., to power in the Philippines. Under the previous government of Rodrigo Duterte, Manila tried to get closer to China. But Philippine authorities now regularly release footage of clashes with the Chinese at sea, and journalists are also taken on trips.

China’s tough stance: According to international maritime law, a country is allowed to use the sea exclusively up to 200 nautical miles (about 360 kilometres) from its coast. China regularly violates this rule and sends its fishing and coast guard vessels into Philippine waters. An arbitration court in The Hague declared this illegal, but Beijing does not care. China is far superior to the Philippines, not only economically, but also militarily. Chinese Coast Guard ships alone are several times larger than those of the Philippines.

This is why Beijing is not giving up: The area has geopolitical importance as a large portion of global shipping traffic passes through here. Beijing wants to dominate there. The South China Sea is also important for fishing, and last but not least, huge deposits of oil and natural gas are suspected to be located here. It’s also about nationalism. Beijing is using the conflict to show its people how to protect Chinese territory. On the other hand, the Philippines and other countries in the region also have their national interests at stake.

Manila on the shorter crane: Despite the ICC ruling, there is little the Philippines can do other than record and publicize China’s violations. The arbitration court cannot enforce its award either. Since the Philippines is a much smaller country than powerful China, it cannot easily turn away Chinese ships. Given this initial situation, the situation is unlikely to improve in the near future. Especially since the Philippines is increasingly turning towards the United States, which in turn has a military presence in the region.

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