Scarborough Shoal or Panatag Shoal (Philippine name: Panatag Shoal; Chinese name: 黃岩島 Huangyan Dao) , more correctly described as a group of islands and reefs in an atoll shape, than a shoal, is located between the Macclesfield Bank and Luzon, Philippines in the South China Sea, specifically Luzon Sea. As with most of the landforms in the sea, the sovereignty of the area is disputed. Some references include this shoal in their discussions about Spratly Islands, an island chain in South China Sea which is also contested by different countries. Scarborough Shoal is not part of that chain.
Geography[baguhin | baguhin ang batayan]
The shoal forms a triangle shaped chain of reefs and islands (but mostly rocks) 55 kilometre (34 mi) around with an of area 150 square kilometers. It has a lagoon with area of 130 km² and depth of about 15 metre (49 ft). Several of the islands are 1/2m to 3m high and many of the reefs are just below water at high tide. Near the mouth of the lagoon are the ruins of an iron tower, 8.3m high which was constructed in 1965 by the Philippine Navy who first raised a flag there.
The shoal is a protrusion in a 3,500m deep abyssal plain. The nearest landmass is Palauig, Zambales, on Luzon Island in the Philippines, 137 mile (220 km) away. It is about 123 mile (198 km) west of Subic Bay.
Economy & Tourism[baguhin | baguhin ang batayan]
Non-Filipino fishermen are tolerated in the area under strict guidelines set and implemented by the Philippine Navy. A number of Chinese fishermen have been arrested in this area due to illegal methods of fishing that destroy the marine habitat of the reef and catching of endangered marine species. Thick layers of guano lie on the rocks in the area. Several diving excursions (1998) and amateur radio DXpeditions (1994, 1995, 1997 and 2007) were done within Scarborough Shoal, again under the supervision of the Philippine Navy.
Sovereignty dispute[baguhin | baguhin ang batayan]
The Philippine Navy has always been vigilant in the Scarborough Shoal for any suspicious or possible economic activity acted by the other claimants. The Philippines base their claim on its proximity, its being in the Philippines' Exclusive Economic Zone, and the principle of terra nullius, which holds that it was previously unclaimed by a sovereign state, which is also applied by the Philippines in its claims to the Spratly Islands.
Chinese side claim that the territorial claim by the Philippine government is new. Chinese side also claim that treaties about the territory of the Philippines and Philippine constitution in 1935 and sea territorial law in 1961 state that the westernmost line of the Philippine territory is 118 East longitude, and the shoal is situated on the western side of the line. They also say that maps published before 1990 did not include the shoal as the territory of the Philippines.
Timeline[baguhin | baguhin ang batayan]
|1279||Historical claims said that the early Chinese used the area for fishing.|
|1500s||Historical reports said that as early as the Spanish era, Filipinos are already using the area for fishing and shelter for fishermen during bad weather.|
|1935||China regarded Scarborough Shoal as part of Zhongsha Islands, although Chinese and foreign scholars question it because of its distance and significance.|
|1947||China published a map drawing a line of claim across South China Sea, Scarborough Shoal is included. The claims were administered in Hainan province.|
|1957||The Philippines followed by an oceanographic survey of the shoal. The Philippines together with the US Navy, used it as an impact range for defense purposes, but tests also ended the same year.|
|1965||The Philippines constructed an 8.3 meter high flag pole and raised the Philippine flag in the shoal, it is said that a small lighthouse was built and operated. |
|1970||China sent its first scientific expedition to the shoal.|
|1978||The Philippines established its EEZ up to 200nm from the baselines from which the territorial sea is measured by Presidential Decree No.1599 in June 1978, which included the Scarborough Shoal.|
|1990||China sent a contingent to the shoal and cemented a marker dated March 31, 1990.|
|1997||The Philippines officially expressed its claim to Scarborough Shoal. Philippine flag was re-hoisted. DENR and the University of the Philippines conducted scientific, topographic and marine studies in the shoal.|
|1998||Bilateral clashes, chases and arrests of several Chinese fisherman by the Philippine Navy intensified. BRP Benguet went aground, but removed the same year.|
|2008||The Philippine government included Scarborough Shoal in its new Baselines Bill to be submitted to UN before May 2009.|
Conflict at the Scarborough Shoal[baguhin | baguhin ang batayan]
|Conflict at the Scarborough Shoal|
New Zealand (allegedly)
8 Vietnamese snipers
|10 Chinese soldiers|
4 Malaysian Frogmen
2 North Korean boats
|1 injured||4 injured, 2 killed|
It was reported that in 1989 2 North Korean boats landed along with 10 Chinese Marines and 4 Malaysian Frogmen in an attempt to capture the Scarborough Shoal and drive out the Filipinos from the island. Philippine troops started firing at Chinese troops. A gun battle was fought between Philippine troops and Chinese troops. After the main battle 4 chinese troops were injured and 2 were killed the Chinese got back in their boats and retreated.
Vietnamese involvment[baguhin | baguhin ang batayan]
It was reported that one landing boat and 8 Vietnamese snipers landed on Scarborough Shoal to help the Filipinos fight and left as soon as the Chinese retreated. It was said that the Vietnamese aided the Filipinos in fighting to take revenge on the Chinese after the Chinese defeated Vietnam in the Johnson South Reef Skirmish.
See Also[baguhin | baguhin ang batayan]
Sources and references[baguhin | baguhin ang batayan]
- What’s become of the MMDA?, Philippine Star, 2 April 2008