- The Philippines and China have laid claim to Scarborough Shoal
- After the PCA handed down the decision favoring the Philippines, China still refused to abide by it
- Now, there are a substantial number of Chinese vessels at the Shoal
About 10 Chinese vessels were spotted near Scarborough Shoal, fueling speculations that reclaiming activities may start again soon.
Scarborough Shoal has been one of the most disputed territories in the West Philippine Sea. The said shoal is closer to the Philippine coast compared to China.
Philippine Defense Minister Delfin Lorenzana reiterated during a press briefing last Sunday, September 4, that he is deeply concerned about such activities in the disputed area.
It is possible that the vessels could carry troops, and that it was most likely a precursor of the establishment of a military base in Scarborough Shoal.
Another concern of Lorenzana is that the nature of the vessels in the Shoal appeared to be utilized for dredging, which could lead to building structures in the area.
According to China’s Foreign Ministry Hua Chunying, the situation in the disputed area has not changed. The Philippines has asked China to provide an explanation for the unusually large number of vessels in the area.
However, the nature of the vessels that are currently found in Scarborough Shoal and the timing are not something that can be easily ignored.
Although the Philippines has won in the Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA), China refused to abide by the ruling, which struck down the nine-dash-line claim of China in Scarborough.
The Shoal is only about 120 miles from the coast of the Philippines, and has been one of the richest fishing grounds where Filipino fishermen.
Aside from disregarding China’s claim, the PCA also ruled that barring Filipinos from the area is tantamount to a violation of “traditional fishing rights.”
A number of foreign diplomats and experts believe that China is deploying the vessels in Scarborough because of plans to build another military outpost, just like what they’ve done at Spratly’s.