US warns China: Leave Philippine ships alone

US warns China: Leave Philippine ships alone
InternationalMay 1 ’23 at 13:51Author of the book: Mark VanHarveldt

Accusing China of “harassing and intimidating Philippine ships”, the US has called on Beijing to end its “provocative actions” in the South China Sea. Washington lashed out at China in response to a recent collision between a Chinese ship and a Philippine Coast Guard boat.

The Philippine Navy ship BRP Sierra Madre was deployed by marines to assert Manila’s territorial claims at the Second Thomas Shoal in the Spratly Islands in the disputed South China Sea. (ANP/AFP/Ted Aljibe)

“We call on Beijing to stop its provocative and indefensible behavior,” US State Department spokesman Matthew Miller said in a statement on Saturday, two days before President Joe Biden called on his Philippine counterpart, Ferdinand Marcos Jr. Received in Washington DC. The State Department has also warned that an attack on Philippine defense forces or other vessels could trigger a US response.

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“The United States stands with our Philippine allies in maintaining international maritime order and reaffirms that in the Pacific Ocean, including the South China Sea, an armed attack will not be carried out against Philippine military forces, public vessels, or aircraft, including the Coast Guard. Implement U.S. mutual defense obligations,” he said. Miller said in the statement.

Aggressive tactics

The United States responded to a mishap between Chinese and Philippine ships off the Spratly Islands — the latest in a long line of maritime incidents between the two countries in the tense South China Sea. The Philippines accused the Chinese coast guard of an “aggression tactic” on Friday following an incident during a Philippine Coast Guard patrol near Second Thomas Shoal in the Spratly Islands.

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The second Thomas Shoal is an atoll occupied by the Philippines. A small Philippine military contingent lives there aboard a World War II American ship that the Philippines deliberately landed there in 1999 to bolster Philippine territorial claims in the South China Sea.

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