How China occupied Scarborough Shoal in the East Sea

How China occupied Scarborough Shoal in the East Sea 0
How China occupied Scarborough Shoal in the East Sea 0

Chinese coast guard ships sprayed water cannons at Philippine fishing boats near Scarborough Shoal in 2015. Photo: AP.

On June 15, 2012, 10 weeks of confrontation between China and the Philippines ended with Manila withdrawing its ships from the waters around Scarborough Shoal, an atoll consisting of many reefs and rocks in the East Sea, located far from the island.

Despite opposition from Asian leaders, Beijing pushed Manila out of Scarborough to take control of the shoal, which the Philippines has claimed since gaining independence in 1946.

The crisis broke out when a Philippine navy patrol plane on April 8, 2012 discovered eight Chinese fishing boats near Scarborough Shoal.

Manila sent the frigate BRP Gregorio del Pilar to approach and capture the Chinese fishermen.

Accusing Manila of militarizing the dispute, Beijing sent maritime surveillance ships to prevent the Philippines from arresting fishermen.

Demanding that the Philippines immediately withdraw, China quickly escalated tensions by deploying a ship formation to overwhelm the number of Philippine ships coming to rescue the warship BRP Gregorio del Pilar.

How China occupied Scarborough Shoal in the East Sea

Scarborough Shoal seen from above.

Meanwhile, Chinese navy ships are still present in the distance, sending a message to Manila: Don’t cause trouble.

In addition to the blockade at sea, Beijing also puts economic pressure on Manila by requiring inspection of each bunch of bananas imported from the Philippines, causing them to get stuck at Chinese ports, rot, and have to be thrown away.

The number of Chinese tourists to the Philippines also dropped after one of China’s three main airlines cut daily flights to Manila from two to one.

Tensions are increasing, traditional diplomatic channels are not really effective.

As a default option, when the Philippine and Chinese governments cannot talk to each other, they turn to the US as an `arbitrator`.

Although Beijing does not want to consider the US as a mediator, it still calls on Washington to pressure Manila to back down, describing the Philippine leadership as emotional and unpredictable.

Manila hopes to return to the way it was before but is still exploring the conditions for Washington to intervene militarily under the Mutual Defense Treaty (MDT) that the two sides signed in 1951. In June 2012, the general

After weeks of meetings, discussions and negotiations, acting as intermediaries, US officials in mid-June 2012 helped build an agreement under which both sides would withdraw from the disputed area.

Exhausted, outnumbered, and lacking viable alternatives, Manila withdrew its remaining ships under the pretext of avoiding the storm.

How China occupied Scarborough Shoal in the East Sea

Flagship Gregorio del Pilar of the Philippine Navy.

Not long after the Philippines withdrew, Chinese officials and experts discussed the so-called `Scarborough Model` to expand its influence in the region and annex disputed territories.

Since then, Beijing has always sought to limit means of access to the area, especially Philippine fishing vessels.

China has always insisted that it does not build in Scarborough, but experts have many doubts because Beijing has repeatedly made false announcements about illegal reclamation and reclamation activities in the East Sea.

Greg Poling, director of the Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), said that with its close location to the Philippines and Taiwan, establishing a presence in Scarborough helps increase

According to Bryan Clark, an expert at the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments, headquartered in Washington, USA, because Scarborough Shoal is quite close to the island of Luzon, if China deploys anti-aircraft missiles and surface-to-surface missiles here,

In addition, the military presence in Scarborough also helps China gain more leverage throughout the East Sea.

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