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China Bullying in South China Sea, Military Floating Barrier Denies Fishermen from Philippines

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China’s aggressive maneuvers in the South China Sea have highlighted its blatant disregard for international law and the sovereign rights of smaller, neighboring countries, essentially demonstrating a form of international bullying. These actions have sent shockwaves across the globe, indicating China’s resolute stance to dominate this crucial maritime region.

The Philippines, one of the nations embroiled in territorial disputes with China in the South China Sea, recently condemned China’s coast guard for installing a “floating barrier” in the disputed waters of the Scarborough Shoal. This act has prevented Filipino fishermen from accessing the waters, obstructing their livelihood activities and undermining their maritime rights. This action has been strongly denounced by Manila’s coast guard and the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources, bringing to light China’s habitual strong-arming of smaller nations to enforce its expansive territorial claims.

The South China Sea has been a center of tension in the Asia-Pacific region for the last decade, as China, leveraging its growing economic influence, has become increasingly assertive. This strategic maritime area is a vital trade route, and the disputes over its waters have involved several countries, including Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Taiwan, and Vietnam.

The installation of the floating barrier by China, who claims 90% of the South China Sea, is reflective of its enduring tactics to enforce territorial claims, impacting not only the livelihood of fishermen but also causing geopolitical tensions. Beijing’s assertive actions began with the seizure of the Scarborough Shoal in 2012, forcing Filipino fishermen to venture further for smaller catches, highlighting China’s relentless approach to consolidating its influence in the region.

China’s actions aren’t just transitory blockades; they are strategically calculated moves aimed at solidifying control. Filipino fishermen have noted that China typically installs such barriers when a significant number of fishermen operate in the area, underscoring the strategic and deliberate nature of these obstructions.

The responses from Chinese boats during encounters with the Philippines’ vessels reveal China’s unwavering stance on its expansive territorial claims. When faced with radio challenges from the Chinese boats, accusations flew against the Philippine ship and fishermen of violating international and China’s laws, only for the Chinese to withdraw upon realizing the presence of media personnel on the Filipino vessel, suggesting a level of coercion masked by legality.

These geopolitical disputes have escalated since the succession of Ferdinand Marcos Jr to the Philippine presidency, leading to renewed tensions and a resurgence in security ties between the Philippines and the U.S. This renewed alliance has irked China, as a bolstered U.S. presence in the Philippines strengthens the arc of U.S. alliances in the region, stretching from South Korea and Japan to Australia, countering China’s territorial ambitions.

The stakes in this region are high; the South China Sea is not only a rich fishing ground but also believed to hold vast oil and gas reserves, with more than half of the world’s fishing vessels operating in its waters. China’s sweeping claims and construction of artificial islands, backed by naval patrols, have sparked outrage among neighboring countries, leading to heightened tensions and territorial disputes.

In a world where power dynamics are constantly shifting, it is imperative to scrutinize China’s brazen acts in the South China Sea as they not only represent an infringement on the sovereign rights of smaller nations but also pose significant geopolitical implications. China’s unwavering pursuit of territorial dominance in these disputed waters is a clear demonstration of international bullying, one that requires cohesive and decisive responses from the global community to uphold international law and the rights of smaller nations.

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