Filipino forces experienced confrontations with Chinese ships in South China Sea. Chinese claimed surrounding waterway has drawn U.S. intervention. There are fears about potential conflict.
ABOARD THE BRP CABRA — In the high seas, a U.S. Navy surveillance plane kept a close watch as dozens of Chinese coast guard ships chased and encircled Philippine vessels in the South China Sea. A Chinese coast guard ship sprayed a water cannon toward a Philippine motorboat delivering supplies to Filipino forces on a rusting warship at Second Thomas Shoal. China has stood by its claim to the strategic waterway, clashing with smaller neighbors and involving the United States, one of its main rivals in the region.
The situation has sparked fears of an armed conflict between the United States and China. Despite Chinese blockades, the Philippines managed to deliver supplies to Filipino marines aboard the BRP Sierra Madre. The Philippine warship donated by the U.S. continues to deteriorate, and Manila stated it would consider an armed attack an act of war. Philippine officials aim to expose China’s growing aggression in the trade route through a continuous public campaign.
Onboard Philippine coast guard ships, journalists observed the maneuvers. Filipino forces have vowed to adhere to the rule of law and resist provocation by China. With at least 38 Chinese ships surrounding Second Thomas Shoal, there is a growing need to prevent collisions. The international community has rallied against China’s “illegal actions,” and the U.S. stands by the Philippines under the 1951 Mutual Defense Treaty.