White House intervention to South China Sea a threat to peaceful settlement with
China – fisherfolk group
Manila, Philippines – Responding from the newly elected United States (U.S.) President Donald Trump, the militant fisherfolk group Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (PAMALAKAYA-Pilipinas) has warned the White House on the possible implications of their intervention on the South China Sea affairs. The White House on Monday vowed to stop China from taking South China Sea islands to “defend international waters from being taken by only one country”.
China claims almost 90% of the South China Sea, of which $5-trillion worth of ship-borne trade passes every year. It has built artificial islands over the contested waters and constructs military facilities and airstrips. Over the years, China has been antagonistic and aggressive towards fishermen who sail within their claimed-territories including the Filipino fisherfolk who experienced violent harassments and intimidations from Chinese personnel.
But due to the continuous resistance of the Filipino people and fishers to uphold its national sovereignty and territorial integrity, China has forced to respect the rights of the Filipino fishers on their traditional fishing ground in Scarborough Shoal. Although Beijing has yet to totally give up its claim on the disputed waters, the Filipino fishers have consider this as an initial victory because they are now able to sail onto their traditional fishing ground which they were deprived for years.
Now the fisherfolk group expresses fear that the new U.S. administration’s plan to meddle on the South China Sea dispute might provoke China that would lead the latter to intensify its military presence and facilities in the disputed waters which could result to another restriction of Filipino fishers in Scarborough Shoal. The fisherfolk group said the real score behind U.S. meddling in the South China Sea dispute is to maintain its military and economic presence in Asia and to counter China as an emerging economic and military superpower.
“The United States’ plan to barge in the South China Sea affairs could lead to armed confrontation between Washington and Beijing. This will turn the disputed waters into a total war zone. In the end, no one but the ordinary fishers will lose in this battle of global dominance,” Fernando Hicap, PAMALAKAYA Chairperson said in a statement.
The fisherfolk group said the Philippines has its own initiative to settle the dispute with China peacefully without Washington’s seemingly-helping hands, and engaging them militarily is the last resort.
“We have initially regained our control over the Scarborough Shoal without the help of the United States. Letting the U.S. meddle on the issue will bring back the tensions so it’s better to keep them off the hook,” Hicap ended. ###