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US Secretary of State Antony Blinken reiterated that the United States will stand with the Philippines after the latest clashes with Chinese vessels in the South China Sea, heightening concerns of a broader conflict in the region.

Following a phone call with Philippine Secretary of Foreign Affairs Enrique A. Manalo, Blinken called China’s “dangerous and irresponsible actions to deny the Philippines from executing a lawful maritime operation in the South China Sea.” He added that China’s “actions undermine regional peace and stability.” In addition, Secretary Blinken referenced the United States’ “ironclad commitments” related to a Mutual Defense Treaty, signed by the US, that vows to protect the Philipines if ever attacked.

Antony Blinken

This discussion followed an incident where eight Chinese boats aggressively engaged Filipino inflatable boats, seizing weapons, including rifles, and navigation equipment intended for a Philippine outpost at Second Thomas Shoal. The Chinese sailors caused significant damage to the Filipino boats and assaulted the sailors with machetes, resulting in injuries, including one Filipino sailor losing a thumb.

Philippine Coast Guard spokesperson Jay Tarriela described the Chinese actions as “barbaric,” stating they aimed to disrupt a legitimate and humanitarian resupply mission. Tarriela added, “These provocative, unprofessional, and inhumane actions of China, if left unchecked, will not just be a loss for our fight in the West Philippine Sea. They serve as a clear indication that humanity has once again allowed barbarism to trample upon compassion.”

Another view:
China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesperson Lin Jian accused the Philippines of violating international law by encroaching on Chinese territory in the South China Sea. She said, “This is sheer provocation and has no justification whatsoever. What is more, this operation of the Philippines is absolutely not about humanitarian resupply. The Philippine vessels secretly carried construction materials and even weapons and equipment, and they deliberately rammed Chinese vessels. The Philippine side threw water and hurled objects to Chinese enforcement personnel. These acts clearly escalated tensions at sea, and severely threatened the safety of Chinese personnel and vessels. The Chinese side took necessary measures in accordance with law to safeguard its sovereignty, which was lawful and justified, and done in a professional and restrained manner. It was beyond reproach.”


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