US recommences warning it’ll defend Philippines after spat
The United States renewed a warning that it would defend its treaty ally if Filipino forces come under attack in the disputed South China Sea, after a Chinese coast guard ship allegedly hit a Philippine patrol vessel with military-grade laser that briefly blinded some of its crew.
President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. summoned Chinese Ambassador Huang Xilian in Manila on Tuesday to express his serious concern “over the increasing frequency and intensity of actions by China against the Philippine coast guard and fishermen,” Communications Secretary Cheloy Garafil said without elaborating.
The Department of Foreign Affairs separately sent a strongly worded diplomatic protest to the Chinese Embassy that “condemned the shadowing, harassment, dangerous maneuvers, directing of military-grade laser, and illegal radio challenges” by the Chinese ship.
The incident took place Feb. 6. when the Chinese coast guard ship beamed high-grade lasers to block the Philippine patrol vessel BRP Malapascua from approaching Second Thomas Shoal on a resupply mission to Filipino forces there, according to Philippine officials.
China claims the South China Sea virtually in its entirety, putting it on a collision course with other claimants. Chinese naval forces have been accused of using military-grade lasers previously against Australian military aircraft on patrol in the South China Sea and other spots in the Pacific.
Despite friendly overtures to Beijing by former Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte and his successor, Ferdinand Marcos Jr., who met Chinese leader Xi Jinping in January in Beijing, tensions have persisted, drawing in closer military alliance between the Philippines and the U.S.