Conflict between China and the Philippines over the South China Sea

China and the Philippines traded accusations of conflict in the South China Sea on Monday, with Manila saying its armed forces would resist Beijing’s actions in the disputed waters, the latest in an increasingly testy row.

US Ambassador to the Philippines Marieke Carlson condemned China’s „aggressive, dangerous” maneuvers in a post on X, saying the conflict „caused physical injury”.

The US State Department condemned what it called China’s „escalating and reckless” actions and reaffirmed that its mutual defense agreement with the Philippines applies to armed attacks on Philippine armed forces, ships or aircraft anywhere in the South China Sea.

In the latest incident on Monday, China’s coast guard said a Philippine supply ship „deliberately and dangerously” approached a Chinese ship, leading to a minor skirmish after the Philippine ship „illegally intruded” near the Second Thomas Shoal. deceptive and misleading”.

The US State Department said it was the latest in a series of Chinese „provocations” to prevent Philippine ships stationed at PRP Sierra Madre from reaching Philippine personnel stationed at the disputed second Thomas Shoal, the site of repeated clashes with China in the past. Year.

„The dangerous and deliberate use of water cannons by PRC ships, colliding, blocking maneuvers and towing damaged Philippine ships, endangers the lives of Philippine service members, is irresponsible and threatens regional peace and stability,” the State Department statement said.

China and the Philippines have been engaged in dangerous maneuvers for months in the second Thomas Shoal, a 200-mile exclusive economic zone (EEZ) of Manila in the South China Sea. China claims the region as its own.

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China claims almost the entire South China Sea, including areas claimed by the Philippines, Vietnam, Indonesia, Malaysia and Brunei.

The Chinese Coast Guard said the Philippine transport and replenishment vessel had repeatedly ignored warnings.

A Philippine task force in the South China Sea has engaged in collisions and tugs with Chinese vessels, endangering lives and damaging boats.

„China’s dangerous and reckless behavior in the West Philippine Sea will be countered by the Armed Forces of the Philippines,” Manila’s Defense Secretary Gilberto Teodoro said in a statement. China’s actions are the real obstacles to peace and stability in the South China Sea.

The Philippines refers to the area of ​​the South China Sea that it claims as the West Philippine Sea. The Chinese Embassy in Manila did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

The Philippine military earlier said the Chinese coast guard’s continued aggressive actions were „increasing tensions in the region”.

There have been several incidents in 1999 when the Philippines sent resupply missions to reinforce its sovereignty claims to its soldiers aboard a rusting, aging warship deliberately grounded by Manila.

China has warned the Philippines about incursions into its territorial waters and issued new rules effective June 15, implementing a 2021 law that allows its coast guard to use deadly force against foreign vessels in waters it claims.

The new rules allow China’s coast guard to detain suspected violators for up to 60 days without trial.

In response, the Philippine Coast Guard ordered two ships on Monday to patrol and ensure the safety of Filipino fishermen — the second flash point 640 km (345 nautical miles) off Thomas Shoal.

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Separately, the US Pacific Fleet said in a statement that it completed a two-day joint maritime exercise with the militaries of Canada, Japan and the Philippines within Manila’s EEZ in the South China Sea.

(Reuters – Reporting by Bernard Orr and the Shanghai newsroom, and Neil Jerome Morales in Manila; Additional reporting by Jasper Ward and David Brunstrom in Washington; Editing by Kim Coghill, Lincoln Feist, Shinjini Ganguly, Alex Richardson and Sandra Mahler)

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