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The Philippines on Sunday accused China’s coast guard of putting in a “floating barrier” in a disputed space of the South China Sea, saying it prevented Filipinos from getting into and fishing within the space.

Manila’s coast guard and Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Sources “strongly condemn” China’s set up of the barrier in a part of the Scarborough Shoal, Commodore Jay Tarriela, a coast guard spokesperson, posted on the X social media platform, previously Twitter.

The barrier blocking fishermen from the shoal was depriving them of their fishing and livelihood actions, he mentioned.

“The (Philippine Coast Guard) will proceed to work intently with all involved authorities businesses to handle these challenges, uphold our maritime rights and shield our maritime domains,” Tarriela mentioned.

The Chinese language embassy in Manila didn’t instantly reply to requests for remark.

China claims 90% of the South China Sea, overlapping with the unique financial zones of Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei, Indonesia and the Philippines. Beijing seized the Scarborough Shoal in 2012 and compelled fishermen from the Philippines to journey additional for smaller catches.

Beijing allowed Filipino fishermen to return to the uninhabited shoal when bilateral relations have been bettering markedly below then-President Rodrigo Duterte. However rigidity has mounted once more since his successor, Ferdinand Marcos Jr, took workplace final yr.

Philippine coast guard and fisheries bureau personnel found the floating barrier, estimated at 300 m (1,000 ft) lengthy, on a routine patrol on Friday close to the shoal, domestically referred to as Bajo de Masinloc, Tarriela mentioned.

Three Chinese language coast guard rigid-hull inflatable boats and a Chinese language maritime militia service boat put in the barrier when the Philippine vessel arrived, he mentioned.

Filipino fishermen say China sometimes installs such boundaries once they monitor a lot of fishermen within the space, Tarriela mentioned.

The Chinese language boats issued 15 radio challenges and accused the Philippine ship and fishermen of violating worldwide and China’s legal guidelines, earlier than shifting away “upon realizing the presence of media personnel onboard the (Filipino) vessel”, he mentioned.

(Reuters – Reporting by Enrico Dela Cruz; Modifying by William Mallard)

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