CNA Correspondent Podcast: Journey to the contested Scarborough Shoal in the South China Sea

CNA Correspondent Podcast: Journey to the contested Scarborough Shoal in the South China Sea

Here’s an extract from the radio:

Teresa Tang: &nbsp,

What I found really interesting in your TV statement was that you really saw these peach lighthouses in the range and that a Filipino saying that you said translated into” This is ours,” which is incredibly symbolic. On the water, did you encounter any issues? You are aware of what transpired when you approached the reef? &nbsp,

Buena Bernal:

Two China beach guard ships have now begun to shadow our fleet 40 nautical miles away from the coast. By this point, the 100 little wooden vessels were no longer with us. And I spoke with authorities after that journey because 40 nautical miles from shore, that’s properly within a country’s 200 nautical hour exclusive economic zone, and those distances are determined by the UN Convention of the Laws of the Sea, which determines the belt of water a nation can claim based on its distance from its shore.

And they informed me that Chinese vessels monitoring the West Philippine Sea, or the Philippines ‘ coastal area in the larger South China Sea, are getting closer and closer to shore, based on their surveillance. They are beginning to realize that China is constantly moving their target. It started in 1996 with West Philippine Sea with China seizing Mischief Reef, 2012, China’s seizing the inward lagoon of Scarborough Shoal.

Sabina Shoal, the island’s closest big sea feature in the West Philippine Sea to Palawan, is now the focus of the dispute. And therefore what you’re actually seeing these is China’s productive activity of the West Philippine Sea, according to academics I’ve spoken to.

And it’s trying to normalise, the scientists are saying, that activity of its ball. And thus efforts like this, where civilians are attempting to visit these nautical features, have been made, at least to the Philippine-occupied islands there, and have included a tour boat and a visit yacht that I retired from last year.

But all these work to” civilianised” the place, they say, is essentially a rebellion of, or a problem to growing Chinese creative activity of the West Philippine Sea, or what they say is China’s militarisation of that place.