If differences with China reach tipping point, Philippines will seek US support, Filipino Defence Ministry warns

Manila: – The Philippines warned China, ‘Against the background of the tension created in the west Philippines marine region, Philippines can seek help from the United States. This cooperation is binding as per the defence agreement signed between the two countries.’ The Philippines, infuriated due to the intrusion of more than 200 Chinese militia ships into its territorial waters, has delivered this suggestive message to China. Meanwhile, the US aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt has entered the South China Sea along with its fleet of destroyers.   

More than 220 Chinese ships have amassed near the Julian Felipe Reef. A month has passed since the intrusion, and the Chinese vessels have not been withdrawn despite repeated appeals. The Philippines had accused that trained militia is leading the ships. The Philippines started marine and air surveillance to monitor the activities of the ships. The Philippines had warned China, which justified the deployment of its vessels. The Philippines had warned China that unwanted hostility would be created between the two countries if the intrusion continues.  

But despite the warning, China has continued with the deployment. Reports say that China has started exploration and begun artificial constructions in the region. Moreover, patrolling by the Chinese ships also has begun in the area. Two months ago, China awarded permission to its patrol vessels to open fire on any foreign vessels entering waters claimed by China, without proper authorisation. Therefore, the deployment of the Chinese patrol vessels in the area is adding to the tension.  

In this scenario, the Filipino defence ministry announced that it would seek cooperation from the United States to secure its interests in the region. Arsenio Andolong, the Philippines defence department spokesman, suggested that the Philippines seek cooperation from its allies as per the ‘Mutual Defence Treaty’ signed with the United States. A few hours before the Philippines’ warning, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken held telephonic discussions with the Philippines Foreign Minister Teodoro Locsin. The gigantic US aircraft carrier is in the same region, and could possibly reach the Philippines.   

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