Published On: Tue, Aug 8th, 2023

China and the Philippines Argue over Grounded Warship

China and Philippines

Tuesday was the second time that China requested that the Philippines remove a grounded battleship from a contested shoal. The ship, which dates back to World War Two and is currently being utilized as a military outpost, was the object of China’s first demand, which Manila turned down.

Under the leadership of Ferdinand Marcos Jr. President of the Philippines, hostilities between the two neighbors have skyrocketed over the South China Sea. In response, Manila has turned back to the United States for backing, which is an important ally for Southeast Asian countries when it comes to maritime conflicts with China.

The Chinese embassy in Manila voiced its disapproval of the United States government for “gathering” its supporters in order to keep “hyping up” the dispute over the South China Sea as well as the boat episode.

The South Chinese Sea is not a “safari park” for nations that are not located in the region to create havoc and spread division, according to a statement that the embassy released on Tuesday.

There are a few military personnel stationed aboard the decommissioned battleship Sierra Madre on the island of Following Thomas Shoal, which is located within the private economic zone of the Philippines. In 1999, Manila purposefully ran the vessel aground to bolster its claims to territorial sovereignty.

Manila has charged the Chinese coastguard as obstructing resupply efforts for its troops in that region on multiple occasions, including on August 5 when it splashed a Philippine ship with a water cannon.

China is of the opinion that the Philippines’ presence on the shoal violates international law.

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The tactics taken by the coastguard of China on Saturday were deemed “excessive along with offensive” by the military of the Philippines. China has stated that the incident should serve as a “warning” and added that it has always acted with “rational restraint” in whatever situation that has arisen.

On Tuesday, the Chinese Ministry of Defense issued an admonition to the Philippine capital of Manila to cease all “provocative” behaviors, and it pledged to continue taking the necessary steps to protect China’s sovereignty as well as maritime rights.

China’s moves around the atoll speak to one thing, according to security analysts, and that is that Beijing wants to assume ownership of the 2nd Thomas Shoal, which is referred to as Renai Reef in China as well as Ayungin in Manila.

Rommel Ong, a specialist in marine security and a former of the Philippine Navy, stated that we need to reestablish sea control surrounding the shoal as if we lack authority over it, our resupply is subject to the coercive tactics that they utilize. Rommel Ong is a former vice commander in Philippine Navy.

It wasn’t the initial occasion that water cannon had been directed at a Manila boat by the Chinese coastguard; they had done the same thing in November 2021.

The event that occurred on August 5 did not result in anybody sustaining injuries; nonetheless, on Monday, Philippine officials reported that one of the city’s two boats did not finish its resupply operation. Both were present in a port in the Philippines.

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China lays claim to practically all of the South China Sea, an area that overlaps between the special economic zones of Brunei, Vietnam, Malaysia, Philippines, and Taiwan. China has asserted its authority over this area.

Both Ong as well as Collin Koh, a security scholar at Singapore’s S. Rajaratnam Institute of International Studies, are of the opinion that China ought to think twice about using direct force to seize the shoal because doing so may potentially trigger a mutual defense treaty between the United States and the Philippines that was signed in 1951.

According to Koh, there may be no doubt about whether or not China possesses the ability to up the ante here; rather, the question is primarily about whether or not it is ready to take those political risks.

General Jonathan Malaya, Assistant Director of the Philippines’s National Security Commission issued a plea to China “not to politicize matters” and avoids putting people’s lives in danger.

By way of their ambassadors in Manila, France, and Japan have voiced their worry over recent moves taken by China and reiterated their backing for an arbitral judgment that was handed down in 2016 that rejected Beijing’s sweeping claims to territory in the South China Sea.

During the incident with the water cannon, the Philippine Ministry of Foreign Affairs stated on Monday that it wasn’t unable to communicate with the other side for several hours.