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Philippine leader warns of countermeasures in response to Chinese aggression at sea

MANILA, Philippines (AP) — The Philippine president said Thursday that his government would enforce a “countermeasure package” in response to “aggressive and dangerous attacks” by the Chinese coast guard and suspected militia ships in the disputed South China Sea, saying “Filipinos do not yield.”

Ferdinand Marcos Jr. did not provide details of the actions his government would take in the succeeding weeks but said these would be “proportionate, deliberate and reasonable in the face of the open, unabating, and illegal, coercive, aggressive and dangerous attacks by agents of the China coast guard and Chinese maritime militia.”

“We seek no conflict with any nation,” Marcos wrote on X, formerly Twitter, but said the Philippines would not be “cowed into silence.”

Marcos’s warning is the latest sign of the escalating disputes between China and the Philippines in the contested waters that have caused minor collisions between the coast guard and other vessels of the rival claimant nations, sparked a war of words and strained relations.

China and the Philippines, as well as Vietnam, Malaysia, Taiwan and Brunei, have overlapping claims in the resource-rich and busy waterway, where a bulk of the world’s commerce and oil transits.

Chinese officials in Manila or Beijing did not immediately respond to Marcos’s public warning, which he issued during Holy Week — one of the most sacred religious periods in the largely Roman Catholic nation.

Marcos said he issued the statement after meeting top Philippine defense and national security officials, who submitted their recommendations. He added without elaborating that he has also been in constant talks with “allies, partners and friends in the international community,” who he said had offered to help the Philippines protect its sovereignty.

In the latest hostilities on Saturday, the Chinese coast guard used water cannons that injured several Philippine navy crewmen and heavily damaged their wooden supply boat near the disputed Second Thomas Shoal. The cannon blast was so strong it threw a crewman off the floor but he hit a wall instead of plunging into the sea, Philippine military officials said.

The Philippine government summoned a