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China caught building new 'artificial island' in South China Sea strip as tensions explode


China has been laying the groundwork to build a new artificial island in the contested South China Sea, according to the Philippines.

Jay Tarriela, the head of Manila’s Coast Guard, told the press on Monday that his agency is committed to keeping Beijing from “carrying out a successful reclamation of Sabina Shoal.”

The shoal, also known as Xianbin Reef in China, is located in the Spratly Islands and is included in the Philippines’s exclusive economic zone.

Sabina Shoal has been playing a crucial role in Manila’s resupply missions to the BRP Sierra Madre warship, which the Philippines ran aground in 1999 to use as an outpost in the area.

Philippines leader President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. confirmed that a Coast Guard vessel had been deployed to the area to “monitor the supposed illegal activities of China, creating an artificial island by destroying coral reefs.”

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US Naval War College researcher Peter Dutton reacted to the claims noting that Beijing would be in violation of international law as a 2016 ruling that denied Beijing’s claims over the South China Sea.

Dutton argued that Manila could lodge a complaint with the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea to pressure Beijing into backing off.

In recent months, Manila has released videos of its territorial faceoffs with China and invited journalists to witness the hostilities on the high seas in a strategy to gain international support, sparking a word war with Beijing.

The increasing frequency of the skirmishes between the Philippines and China has led to minor collisions, injured Filipino navy personnel and damaged supply boats.

It has sparked fears the territorial disputes could degenerate into an armed conflict between China and the United States, a longtime treaty ally of the Philippines.

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