A showdown at a China-Philippines-disputed submerged reef in the volatile South China Sea appears to be in the works.
China’s despicable actions were a warning to the Philippines
On August 5, a Chinese Coast Guard ship used a water cannon to stop a Philippine government-chartered boat carrying supplies for its troops on Second Thomas Shoal. The boat was escorted by Philippine coast guard ships.
In a report from Asia Times, an earlier incident in February in which a Chinese Coast Guard vessel directed a military-grade laser at the bridge of a Philippine Coast Guard vessel had already strained relations.
Despite being the most recent of several instances involving China and the Philippines, the one on August 5 stood out due to its brazenness and the US response to it.
In fact, it appeared as though China’s despicable actions were a warning to the Philippines that its military rapprochement with the US had gone too far.
In fact, this one might have completely shattered the back of constraint. At the very least, it has pushed a military conflict between China, the Philippines, and the US closer.
Manila declared that it will soon make another attempt to resupply its forces on a ship that was deliberately grounded on the reef while being escorted by its coast guard and perhaps US assets.
Something needs to give as nationalism increases in China and the Philippines. Analysts and decision-makers are keeping an eye on the situation.
US would support the Philippines in that warning
Bangkok Post stated that the US has frequently spoken out in favor of the Philippines in the South China Sea and warned China that its actions could trigger the Mutual Defense Treaty (MDT) between the US and the Philippines. These cautions were disregarded by China.
China argued that its actions were professional, restrained, and justified because the water cannon was employed as a final warning to prevent a collision.
Regarding its actions, it claims that it makes a distinction between construction materials for repairing the ailing ship and humanitarian supplies like food and water, which it does not let.
In other words, the “existing international order” that the US leads and has sworn to uphold is in direct conflict with China’s claim and recent action at Second Thomas Shoal, which violates the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea. China’s actions are unmistakably a “in your face” to the US, the Philippines, and the preexisting “international rules,” to use a phrase.
Despite several threats, the US has so far not followed through on its words. In this instance, the US in response issued a more detailed warning that it would support the Philippines in that situation.
Admiral Samuel Paparo, commander of the US Indo-Pacific Fleet, stated that if China interferes with Manila’s efforts to resupply its forces on its grounded naval ship on the Shoal, the US is prepared to help the Philippines.