A Philippine flag flutters from BRP Sierra Madre, a dilapidated Philippine Navy ship that has been aground since 1999 and became a Philippine military detachment in the Spratly Islands, in this file photo dated March 29, 2014. Erik de Castro, Reuters
MANILA – President Benigno Aquino on Thursday accused China of breaking a U.S.-brokered deal between the two nations on the Scarborough Shoal, an uninhabited rocky outcrop in the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea).
China claims almost the entire South China Sea, believed to have rich deposits of oil and gas. Brunei, Malaysia, Taiwan, Vietnam and the Philippines also claim the waterway, through which about $5 trillion in ship-borne goods pass every year.
Beijing seized control of Scarborough Shoal, near the main Philippine island of Luzon, in June 2012, following a three-month standoff after a Philippine Navy vessel tried to arrest Chinese fishermen found illegally hauling giant clams there.
On Thursday, Aquino said the United States moved in quickly to resolve the standoff, brokering a “face-saving” deal by asking both nations to pull out their ships, but only the Philippines withdrew.