Beijing intensified a 10-day standoff between the Philippines and China on Friday by sending a third ship to a shoal in the South China Sea where both sides claim sovereignty.
The confrontation at the Scarborough Shoal began on April 10 when a Philippine warship accused eight Chinese fishermen of illegal entry and poaching in Philippine waters, and attempted to arrest them. Philippine officials said the vessels held endangered marine resources such as giant clams and live sharks, which it is illegal to catch. The Philippine officials attempted to arrest the fishermen, but were stopped by the arrival of two Chinese government vessels, which ordered the Philippine warship to leave Scarborough, saying it was Chinese territory. The Philippine ship refused to back down, saying that the territory lies well within Philippine waters. The UN Convention on the Law of the Sea designates a country’s exclusive economic zone as 230 miles from its coastline, and the shoal in question is only 140 miles from the Philippine coast. China’s closest territory to the shoal, Hainan province, is 542 miles away from the Scarborough Shoal.