(Washington) The United States on Saturday called on Beijing to end its “provocative and dangerous” action in the disputed waters of the South China Sea, raising its voice after the incident raised tensions with the Philippines, whose president is supposed to be received on Monday. White House.
“We call on Beijing to desist from its provocative and dangerous action” in these waters, a Ministry of Defense spokesman said in a statement, where a collision was narrowly averted on Sunday between two Chinese and a Filipino coast guard vessels. Matthew Miller.
The United States also warns that any Chinese attack will not go unanswered, while tensions are already high between the two countries, against the backdrop of economic competition and struggles for diplomatic influence.
“Any armed attack in the Pacific region, including the South China Sea, against the Armed Forces of the Philippines or government ships or aircraft, including Coast Guard vessels, would give rise to the states’ mutual defense obligations” with respect to the Philippines under the 1951 Treaty said a State Department spokesperson.
The update comes two days before Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. visits Washington. His counterpart, Joe Biden, will receive him at the White House.
Proximity to Taiwan could make the Philippines a key partner for the United States if China invaded the democratic island it considers part of its territory.
In early April, Manila made four new military bases available to Washington, including a naval base not far from Taiwan, to Beijing’s chagrin.
The incident between Chinese and Filipino boats, which heightened tensions between Beijing and Manila, occurred on Sunday near the Spratly Islands.
The collision was narrowly avoided when the Philippine coast guard vessel was cut off by a Chinese coast guard vessel. The incident, witnessed by the AFP team on another Filipino boat, is the latest in a long series.
It happened near the Thomas II reef, about 200 kilometers from the Philippine island of Palawan and more than a thousand kilometers from Hainan Island, the nearest Chinese territory.
The US State Department denounced that “photos and videos recently released to the media are a stark reminder that the People’s Republic of China is harassing and intimidating Philippine vessels that routinely patrol its exclusive economic zone.”
Beijing claims nearly all of the South China Sea, ignoring a 2016 international ruling that found its claims had no legal basis.
China has redeveloped and militarized thousands of hectares there, over the past 10 years, growing landing strips, ports and radar systems.
Beijing responded to the incident on Friday by accusing the Philippines of “deliberately” wanting to provoke it. For his part, Manila stressed that “routine patrols in our waters cannot be deliberate or provocative” and that it is “a legal right that we have exercised and will continue to exercise.”
Since assuming the presidency of the Philippines last June, Ferdinand Marcos Jr. has vowed that he will not let China encroach on his country’s maritime rights.
In this context, he seeks to improve relations with the United States, an old ally of the Philippines, which was damaged by his predecessor, Rodrigo Duterte.