19.10.16

China Likely to Grant Fishing Rights to Philippines at Scarborough Shoal

China is likely to grant fishing rights to the Philippines around the contentious Scarborough Shoal, according to a report by Reuters. Both countries claim the shoal, but China seized it in 2012 and its coast guard prevents access to Filipino ships. This news coincides with Filipino President Duterte’s visit to China where he will meet with Chinese President Xi to discuss bilateral relations.
The Cipher Take: For China to grant these rights, the Philippines will have to give up something in return. Duterte will have to walk a fine line since giving up the Philippines’ sovereign claim of the shoal would be considered an impeachable offense. China is likely keen to perform land reclamation on the shoal in order to build military facilities, and so it will expect a concession that does not preclude this course. If the fishing deal indeed goes through, and a rapprochement between China and the Philippines moves ahead, it will become a larger headache for the U.S.' regional strategic interests.

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