Philippines’ Marcos sees Chinese actions in South China Sea with ‘great alarm’

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A file photo of Philippine President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr.

A file photo of Philippine President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr.
| Photo Credit: Reuters

Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos said on Wednesday that he sees Chinese actions in the South China Sea with “great alarm”, after recent confrontations described by a Filipino military commander as “the worst” in two years.

The latest incidents involving Philippine and Chinese vessels took place on Tuesday in waters around Second Thomas Shoal in the Spratly Islands where the countries have contested maritime claims.

Manila said that China Coast Guard ships caused two collisions with Philippine boats and water cannoned one of them, leaving four Filipino crew members injured.

The Philippine vessels were part of a regular mission to deliver provisions to a handful of Filipino troops stationed on a grounded navy vessel at Second Thomas Shoal.

“We continue to view with great alarm this continuing dangerous manoeuvres and dangerous actions that are being done against our seamen, our coast guard,” Mr. Marcos told reporters.

“I think that we cannot view this in any way but in the most serious way,” he said.

“Once again, we will make our objections known and hope that we can continue to communicate to find a way so that such actions are no longer seen.”

Manila summoned a Chinese representative over the incidents on Tuesday.

Beijing expressed “strong protests” over the run-in with the Philippine vessels, Chinese foreign ministry spokeswoman Mao Ning said Tuesday.

‘Worst in two years’

Philippine Vice Admiral Alberto Carlos, who was on board the supply boat water cannoned by the China Coast Guard, said the force of the water “shattered the windshield” and injured four personnel.

“In the last two years, I think this is the worst because it resulted in personal injuries,” Carlos, chief of the Armed Forces Western Command, told reporters.

The incident happened a day after Philippine foreign minister Enrique Manalo called on China to “stop harassing us” as he defended Manila’s strategy of publicising Chinese manoeuvres in the South China Sea.

AFP was among media outlets on board one of the Philippine Coast Guard ships that escorted the supply mission.

Tuesday’s collisions and water cannoning came after similar incidents in December.

“It is China that is deliberately stirring up trouble and maliciously inciting hype and not the Philippines,” said Jonathan Malaya, assistant director-general of the Philippines’ National Security Council.

“The South China Sea is wide enough for both our nations to peacefully co-exist as we have done for centuries.”

China claims almost the entire waterway, brushing aside competing claims from a host of Southeast Asian nations and an international ruling that has declared its stance baseless.



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