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Philippines condemns China for installing "floating barrier" in disputed South China Sea

Manila [Phillipines], September 24 (ANI): The Philippines has strongly criticized China for the installation of what they have referred to as a "floating barrier" in a disputed area of the South China Sea, according to CNN.

The floating barrier was found by Philippine warships on Friday during a normal marine sweep, according to a statement by Philippine Coast Guard spokesperson Jay Tarriela on X, previously known as Twitter.

It was around 300 metres (984 feet) in length.

Bajo de Masinloc, also known as the Scarborough Shoal, is a small but strategic reef and fertile fishing ground 130 miles (200 kilometers) west of the Philippine island of Luzon.

The shoal, which China calls Huangyandao, is one of a number of disputed islands and reefs in the South China Sea, which is home to various territorial disputes.

"The Philippine Coast Guard and Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources strongly condemn the China Coast Guard's installation of a floating barrier in the Southeast portion of Bajo de Masinloc, which prevents Filipino fishing boats from entering the shoal and depriving them of their fishing and livelihood activities," the statement read.

Following the arrival of a Philippine government vessel in the region, according to images given by Tarriela showing the purported floating barrier and claims made by three Chinese coast guard boats and a Chinese maritime militia service boat, the floating barrier was built, CNN reported.

This Monday, the Philippine coast guard released a video showing extensive swaths of shattered and bleached coral, leading authorities to charge China with widespread devastation in the region.

The Philippines has accused China's shadowy maritime militia of causing extensive coral reef destruction in the South China Sea, which has ignited a public dispute between the two nations.

Videos released by the Philippine Coast Guard have revealed substantial damage to coral reefs along the Rozul (Iroquois) Reef and Sabina (Escoda) Shoal in the South China Sea. These underwater features fall within the Philippines' internationally recognized exclusive economic zone (EEZ) and are located near Palawan, a southwestern island chain facing the South China Sea. However, China asserts sovereignty over a significant portion of the South China Sea, challenging competing claims by neighbouring countries and international rulings.

Between August 9 and September 11, the Philippine coast guard reported monitoring 33 Chinese vessels near Rozul Reef and approximately 15 Chinese ships in the vicinity of Escoda Shoal. The presence of crushed corals strongly suggests potential dumping, possibly involving dead corals that were previously processed and then returned to the seabed.

The Philippine military had previously accused China's maritime militia of causing extensive destruction in the area. However, China initially remained silent on the allegations until its foreign ministry spokesperson, Mao Ning, refuted the claims as "false and groundless." Mao advised Philippine authorities not to utilize fabricated information for political purposes, according to CNN.

China has asserted "indisputable sovereignty" over a vast portion of the South China Sea, including the Spratly chain, which consists of 100 small islands and reefs. These territorial claims are contested, in full or part, by the Philippines, Malaysia, Brunei, and Taiwan. China's actions in the South China Sea, including the construction of military installations on reefs and atolls, have challenged not only the Philippines' sovereignty but also the marine biodiversity of the highly disputed region. (ANI)