Fishing amid territorial disputes in the South China Sea

At one level, the territorial disputes in the South China Sea are a battle of wills between American and Chinese battleships and planes. At another level, they are cat-and-mouse chases between the coast guards of several countries and foreign fishermen, and among the fishing boats themselves… s tensions ratchet up, though, it is perhaps those who make a living at sea who feel it the most. Here are some stories from fishermen around the region:

Associated Press @ INQUIRER.NET / April 8th, 2016

Philippines Flag

“Where is the document that shows Scarborough is Chinese property?” Renato Etac, Philippines

“It was very dangerous and scary. We had to run around the reefs to get away from big120px-Zeng_Liansong's_proposal_for_the_PRC_flag.svg (Philippine) boats. Thanks to the shallow water and submerged reefs, their big boats could not enter the reefs. We played hide-and-seek inside the reef until their boats gave up and left.” – Li Xianchuan, China

“Taiwanese fishermen don’t have any weapons. Once they board our boats, downloadthere’s
nothing we can do. We would be detained and we have to pay for our release.”- Hong Huai-jen, Taiwan

id“Fishermen that come from Vietnam, Thailand, Malaysia and China have told native fishermen that Natuna waters are their traditional fishing grounds since the time of their ancestors,”- Anton Leonard, Indonesia

vm-smflag“We have equipped GPS and navigation to identify Chinese boats so we can avoid them.” Tran Lan, Vietnam

CATO, Philippines — As Asian countries jostle for territory in the South China Sea, one Filipino fisherman is taking a stand.

He has faced down Chinese coast guard rifles, and even engaged in a stone-throwing duel with the Chinese last month that shattered two windows on his outrigger.

“They’ll say, ‘Out, out of Scarborough,’” Renato Etac says, referring to Scarborough Shoal, a rocky outcropping claimed by both the Philippines and China. He yells back, “Where is the document that shows Scarborough is Chinese property?”

At one level, the territorial disputes in the South China Sea are a battle of wills between American and Chinese battleships and planes. At another level, they are cat-and-mouse chases between the coast guards of several countries and foreign fishermen, and among the fishing boats themselves
.
Indonesia seized a Chinese fishing boat last month and arrested eight fishermen, only to have a Chinese coast guard vessel ram the fishing boat as it was being towed, allowing it to escape.

Vietnam’s coast guard chased away more than 100 Chinese boats over a two-week period, its state media reported this week, and made a rare seizure of a Chinese ship carrying 100,000 liters (26,400 gallons) of diesel oil, reportedly for sale to fishing boats in the area.

The South China Sea, a hodgepodge of overlapping territorial claims in the Pacific, is both strategically important and a vital shipping route for international trade. It may also contain valuable oil and natural gas reserves.

As tensions ratchet up, though, it is perhaps those who make a living at sea who feel it the most. Here are some stories from fishermen around the region: Read more…

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