There is a new identify in the South China Sea’s increasing listing of flashpoints: Thitu Island. Although nowhere around the scale of Fiery Cross or Mischief Reefs, this island and bundle of reduced-lying sandbars off the Philippines coastline is just as substantial.
It is a affluent fishing location. And it is yet another possible territorial marker in the hotly contested worldwide waterway.
Now, China has bodily staked its declare in excess of the sandbars that encompass it.
Filipino fishermen say they are becoming pushed absent from their conventional fishing grounds, by Chinese boats.
LINE IN THE SAND
The waters amongst Thitu Island and Subi Reef, equally of which are around the northwestern Philippines, have prolonged been claimed as portion of its territorial waters.
But, considering that 2015, China merely took in excess of Subi Reef and utilized land-reclamation engineering to flip it into an huge naval and air pressure fortress.
Beijing has just lately staked a declare to virtually the whole South China Sea, even however it extends considerably to the south and east of the mainland. It contains waters claimed by the Philippines, Brunei, Malaysia and Vietnam.
Now the Chinese Communist Party’s fishing ‘militia’ is pushing out its boundaries.
Mayor Roberto del Mundo of Kalayaan, a Philippines Palawan city which administers Thitu Island, has told Inquirer.net that his fishermen are being elbowed out.
Thitu Island alone is house to a Philippines slipway, jetty, runway and anchorage. But fishermen trying to work from there are becoming turned again as before long as they method the closest sandbar just 3km off the island’s coastline.