Sun. Apr 21st, 2024

The Philippines has taken action by summoning China’s ambassador to Manila. The incident occurred when Chinese coastguards blocked and used water cannons on Philippine vessels carrying essential supplies, including food, water, and fuel, destined for military personnel stationed at Second Thomas Shoal in the Spratly Islands.

President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. confirmed the summons and stated, “Our secretary of foreign affairs summoned Ambassador Huang today and gave him a note verbale, including pictures and video of what happened, and we are awaiting their reply.”

The Philippines firmly condemned the actions of the Chinese coastguard, considering them “illegal,” “excessive,” and “dangerous.” A senior Philippine official reaffirmed the nation’s commitment to Second Thomas Shoal, approximately 200km (124 miles) from the Philippine island of Palawan and more than 1,000km from China’s nearest major landmass, Hainan island.

The dispute over the South China Sea remains a contentious issue, with China asserting its claims over almost the entire region, despite a 2016 international court ruling that dismissed its claims as having no legal basis. Manila, on the other hand, vows to continue asserting its sovereignty and territorial rights in the disputed waters.

The recent incident involved four Philippine vessels, two of which were chartered by the Philippine navy to supply provisions to the BRP Sierra Madre resting ship at Second Thomas Shoal. Chinese coastguard vessels and fishing militia ships shadowed and water-cannoned all four Philippine vessels. Fortunately, there were no casualties, and the vessels safely returned to Palawan.

China maintains that the incident occurred within its territorial waters and asserts its right to defend them, further contributing to the ongoing tensions between the two nations in the region.

In response to the incident, the United States, United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, and the European Union condemned China’s actions, stating that they directly threatened regional peace and stability.

The Philippines and China have a long-standing history of maritime disputes in the South China Sea. Former Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte pursued closer ties with Beijing during his tenure from 2016 to 2022, while the current President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. has shifted towards strengthening defense ties with the United States, the Philippines’ former colonial ruler and longtime ally. The situation remains complex, with both nations asserting their rights in the disputed waters, creating a grey area of contention.

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