US backs Philippines in condemning China's actions in South China Sea
In the wake of a series of maritime confrontations in the disputed South China Sea, the United States has reiterated its commitment to defend the Philippines under a 1951 Mutual Defense Treaty. The renewed warning came after Chinese ships blocked and collided with two Filipino vessels near the contested Second Thomas Shoal, raising concerns about regional stability and adherence to international law.
On Sunday, a standoff occurred near the Second Thomas Shoal, a part of the Spratly Islands in the South China Sea, where a grounded Philippine navy ship serves as a territorial outpost. Approximately five Chinese coast guard ships, accompanied by eight other vessels and two navy ships, formed a blockade, hindering two Philippine coast guard ships and two supply boats from delivering essential supplies to Filipino troops stationed on the marooned navy ship.
During the confrontations, one of the Philippine coast guard ships and a supply boat were hit by a Chinese coast guard ship and a vessel. Fortunately, no injuries were reported, but damage was inflicted on the Philippine vessels. Philippine diplomats swiftly lodged a strongly-worded protest with a Chinese Embassy official in Manila.
In response to these tensions, President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. held an emergency meeting with top military and security officials to address the situation. Defense Secretary Gilberto Teodoro criticized China for resorting to "brute force" and endangering Filipino crew members. He declared the Philippine government's view of China's actions as a "blatant violation of international law," emphasizing that China has no legal right to conduct law enforcement operations in Philippine territorial waters and its exclusive economic zone.
Teodoro stated that the Philippine government was taking the incidents seriously at the highest levels and announced an investigation into the high-sea collisions. However, he did not disclose the specific measures the government would take in response to China's actions.
Furthermore, the Philippines plans to raise concerns over China's dangerous maneuvers in talks between China and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) on a proposed nonaggression pact,