In a recent territorial dispute in the South China Sea, the Philippines has accused China of aggressive actions, including ramming two Philippine resupply vessels, Unaizah Mae 1 and M.L. Kalayaan, and firing water cannons at them. This incident, reported on December 10 by Philippine coast guard spokesperson Jay Tarriela, resulted in significant engine damage to the M.L. Kalayaan. It marks the second such encounter since October near the Second Thomas Shoal, an area within the Philippines' exclusive economic zone.
Philippines to China: Cease Aggressive Actions
The Philippine government has condemned these actions by China. The National Task Force for the West Philippine Sea stated that it 'vehemently condemns the illegal and aggressive actions' of the Chinese Coast Guard and Chinese Maritime Militia. The United States ambassador to Manila, MaryKay Carlson, and Japan's envoy, Kazuhiko Koshikawa, have also expressed serious concern about the dangerous actions of the Chinese coast guard.
Atin Ito Campaign: Asserting Philippine Rights
These events occur amidst a larger effort by a civilian-led advocacy group, the Atin Ito 'This is ours' campaign, to assert Philippine rights in the disputed region. On Sunday, a convoy of around 40 Philippine vessels, joined by over 200 fishermen, youth leaders, and civil society groups, set sail to the shoal to reinforce Manila's claims. This move speaks volumes of the country's determination to uphold its territorial rights against any form of infringement.
Global Repercussions and Waiting for China's Response
This incident, reflective of the ongoing territorial tensions between China and the Philippines in the South China Sea, has global implications. The sea route is a critical international crossroads for trillions of dollars of trade annually. The absence of an immediate response from Chinese officials adds to the tension. The world now watches, as the culmination of these events could herald a shift in the geopolitical balance in the region.