There is a new identify in the South China Sea’s expanding record of flashpoints: Thitu Island. When nowhere close to the scale of Fiery Cross or Mischief Reefs, this island and bundle of very low-lying sandbars off the Philippines coastline is just as important.
It is a affluent fishing location. And it is an additional likely territorial marker in the hotly contested global waterway.
Now, China has bodily staked its assert about the sandbars that encompass it.
Filipino fishermen say they are currently being pushed absent from their regular fishing grounds, by Chinese boats.
LINE IN THE SAND
The waters among Thitu Island and Subi Reef, the two of which are close to the northwestern Philippines, have very long been claimed as portion of its territorial waters.
But, given that 2015, China just took about Subi Reef and utilised land-reclamation engineering to convert it into an monumental naval and air pressure fortress.
Beijing has lately staked a assert to virtually the overall South China Sea, even however it extends significantly to the south and east of the mainland. It involves 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 residence to a Philippines slipway, jetty, runway and anchorage. But fishermen making an attempt to work from there are currently being turned back again as shortly as they tactic the closest sandbar just 3km off the island’s coastline.