China is “threatening war” after it authorised its warships to open fire on fishers plying traditional waters, warns the Philippines. Now Washington says it has Manila’s back.
Beijing has passed legislation calling upon its military-controlled coast guard to open fire upon “foreign” vessels and destroy “illegal” structures within the East and South China seas.
Problem is, those territories don’t belong to it.
Which means the law represents a significant escalation in international tensions.
And that has Manila worried the region is about to erupt in violence.
Foreign Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. says the Chinese move “is a verbal threat of war to any country that defies the law”. Any nation not rejecting the law will be signalling its “submission”.
Beijing’s aggressive new legislation orders its coast guard to “take all necessary measures, including the use of weapons, when national sovereignty, sovereign rights, and jurisdiction are being illegally infringed upon by foreign organisations or individuals at sea”.
Hours after the new law was passed, a flight of H-6K strategic bombers escorted by advanced fighters made a dummy “attack run” on the USS Theodore Roosevelt battle group.
Filipino fishers operating out of Thitu (also known as Pag-asa) island in the Spratly Islands also reported Chinese coast guard and militia vessels forcing them out of traditional waters.
The aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN 71) as it transits the Pacific Ocean in April 2017. Picture: Paul L. Archer/US Navy/AFP.
The aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN 71) as it transits the Pacific Ocean in April 2017. Picture: Paul L. Archer/US Navy/AFP.Source:AFP
I had a great conversation today with @teddyboylocsin. We'll continue to build upon the strong U.S.-Philippine Alliance with our shared interests, history, values, and strong people-to-people ties. #FriendsPartnersAllies
— Secretary Antony Blinken (@SecBlinken) January 28, 2021
New US Secretary of State Antony Blinken has responded to Beijing’s intimidation by contacting Mr Locsin, telling him the longstanding defence agreement between the two nations would be honoured.
“Secretary Blinken pledged to stand with Southeast Asian claimants in the face of PRC pressure,” a State Department press release reads.
“Secretary Blinken stressed the importance of the Mutual Defence Treaty for the security of both nations, and its clear application to armed attacks against the Philippine armed forces, public vessels, or aircraft in the Pacific, which includes the South China Sea.”
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