Chinese hauling corals from Philippines
PAG-ASA ISLAND. 13 Hainan fishing vessels at 3 nautical miles east off Pag-asa Island. Photo taken by AFP Wescom, July 23
More than 20 Chinese fishing boats have been hauling corals within Philippine territory, and they’re making Filipinos angry.  The boats reached the Philippines Pag-asa Island on Tuesday, July 24, and have been pulling large coral heads using steel cables and winches, according to Kalayaan Mayor Eugeion Bito-onon.  A Rappler military source said the fishing boats were escorted by Chinese frigates.  The Armed Forces of the Philippines and China have not made any statements and the military has been told to stand down, presumably to avoid escalation.  Conflict over disputed territories in the South China Sea erupted April during a standoff between China and the Philippines over Scarborough Shoal.  Both countries have tried to ease tensions, but this dispute delayed the signing of a closing agreement at this year’s ASEAN Ministerial Meeting.  Security analysts say the competing interests of nations and corporations make the South China Sea one of the world’s volatile flashpoints. 

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