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Naval Standoff: China-Philippines Warship Conflict Grows More Intense

China demanded again on Tuesday that the Philippines remove a grounded cruiser off a disputed shoal that is now being utilised as a military base. Manila had previously rejected Beijing’s demands.

Under Filipino President Ferdinand Marcos Jr., tensions between the two neighbours have risen, leading Manila to refocus on the United States, which backs the Southeast Asian country in its territorial conflicts with China.

A few soldiers are stationed on the former warship Sierra Madre, which Manila stranded there in 1999 to support its sovereignty claims, on the Second Thomas Shoal, also known as Ayungin.

Manila has accused the Chinese coast guard of delaying resupply sorties and spraying a Filipino vessel with water cannons on August 5 in an effort to prevent Beijing from supplying its troops there..

The Chinese coast guard’s actions were deemed “excessive and offensive” by the Filipino military. China stated that the incident was a “warning” and that it always acted with “rational moderation.”

A video of a Chinese coast guard ship firing a water cannon at a smaller Philippine vessel without striking it was made public.

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Diplomatic Strain Deepens

China demanded again on Tuesday that the Philippines remove a grounded cruiser off a disputed shoal that is now being utilized as a military base.

However, Filipino authorities said on Monday that one of Manila’s two boats failed not complete its resupply mission. No one was wounded during the incident. Both were back in a port in the Philippines.

The incident on 5 August is the most recent in a long line of grievances Manila has brought against China, which also includes a protest against the use of a laser by the Chinese coast guard on a ship supporting a resupply mission in February.

Via their embassies in Manila, Japan and France have voiced their alarm over these activities and reiterated their support for the 2016 arbitral decision that invalidated Beijing’s broad South China Sea claims.

China’s embassy in the Philippines said on Tuesday that the Chinese ambassador to the Philippines had stated during a meeting with a Philippine undersecretary of foreign affairs on Monday that Beijing had no choice but to reply.

The Philippine foreign ministry claimed on Monday that throughout the water cannon incident, it had been unable to contact its counterpart for a number of hours.

The South China Sea, which crosses the exclusive economic zones of Malaysia, Vietnam, Brunei, Taiwan, and the Philippines, is virtually entirely claimed by China.

A Philippine politician named Rufus Rodriguez has urged Marcos to take more measures against China’s intimidation and coercion, including downgrading Manila’s embassy in Beijing.

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Source: Reuters

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