The Philippine Coast Guard announced that it conducted a special operation to remove obstacles placed by the Chinese Coast Guard around rocky reefs in the South China Sea, which are disputed between China and the Philippines.
The Philippine Coast Guard confirmed on March 22 that the Chinese Coast Guard had set up an obstacle of about 300 meters with a series of white floating balls in the sea around Scarborough Shoal in the South China Sea.
The Philippine National Security Council instructed the Coast Guard to conduct a special operation to remove this obstacle on the 25th, saying that it blocked the entrance to the reef, posed a danger to the navigation of Philippine fishing boats, and violated international law.
Released footage shows divers using knives to cut ropes connecting obstacles floating in the sea.
The Coast Guard said the removal "any disturbance that interferes with the livelihoods of Filipino fishermen is a violation of international law and a violation of their sovereignty."
Scarborough Shoal is known for its rich fishing grounds and lies within the Philippines' exclusive economic zone, but it has been under effective control by China since 2012, and a 2016 international arbitration court ruling found that China was infringing on the traditional fishing rights of Filipinos.
China's Ministry of Foreign Affairs claimed on the 25th that it "has undisputed sovereignty and jurisdiction over the surrounding waters," and the movement following the removal will be closely watched.