In the wake of clashes between Chinese ships and Filipino vessels in the disputed waters of the South China Sea, the United States issued a renewed warning on Monday, affirming its commitment to defend the Philippines in the event of an armed attack under a 1951 treaty. The incidents occurred when Chinese ships blocked and collided with two Filipino vessels near the contested Second Thomas Shoal, prompting strong protests from the Philippines.
Amid escalating tensions, President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. held an emergency meeting with top military and security officials. The Philippines, along with neighboring countries, has resisted China’s expansive territorial claims in the South China Sea. In response to the collisions, Defense Secretary Gilberto Teodoro condemned China’s “brute force” tactics and emphasized that China had no legal right to conduct law enforcement operations in Philippine waters.
The Philippine government views China’s actions as a violation of international law. Investigations into the high-sea collisions are underway, with the government taking the incidents seriously at the highest levels. Despite China’s attempts to conceal its aggression, the Philippine government plans to raise concerns over the dangerous maneuvers of Chinese ships in talks with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations on a proposed nonaggression pact.
The territorial disputes in the South China Sea, involving China, the Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia, Taiwan, and Brunei, have long been a focal point in the rivalry between the United States and China. In the latest incidents, Chinese coast guard ships formed a blockade, preventing Filipino vessels from delivering supplies to Filipino forces stationed at Second Thomas Shoal. The collisions, which damaged Philippine vessels, prompted the U.S. State Department to issue a statement, emphasizing its commitment to defend the Philippines under the 1951 Mutual Defense Treaty.
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