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Philippines Vows ‘No Mercy’ in South China Sea Dispute

Daniel Kim Views  

Yonhap News

The Philippines and China, which recently clashed fiercely in the South China Sea, are seeking to ease tensions through deputy-level talks. While agreeing to restore and rebuild trust, the Philippines expressed its position, saying there would be “no mercy” in protecting its interests in the South China Sea.

According to the foreign ministries of both nations, the Philippines and China held the 9th meeting of the China-Philippines Bilateral Consultation Mechanism (BCM) on the South China Sea on Wednesday. The session, hosted in Manila, Philippines, was chaired by the deputy foreign ministers of both countries. Officials from their respective foreign, defense, natural resources, and coast guard departments also participated in the discussions.

Both countries stated that they exchanged honest and constructive opinions on controlling the situation in the South China Sea, especially the recent clash at the Second Thomas Shoal.

The Philippine Department of Foreign Affairs said in a statement, “Significant progress has been made in developing measures to manage the maritime situation, but considerable differences remain.”

The Chinese Foreign Ministry also stated, “Both countries viewed the peace and stability of the South China Sea as in the interests of both countries and a common goal of countries in the region” and “agreed to continue dialogue and negotiations through mechanisms such as BCM and control contradictions (issues) and differences.” Neither country used expressions like easing tensions or mutually acceptable solutions, and China maintained its previous stance that the cause of the problem lies in the Philippines’ provocation.

The meeting lasted all day in Manila but did not result in any major agreements to prevent future clashes, such as the recent incident at the Second Thomas Shoal.

An agreement was reached to improve communication between the two countries in case of maritime emergencies and to continue talks on strengthening the relationship between the coast guards, but the details were not disclosed.

On the 17th of last month, a China Coast Guard motorboat rammed at high speed into a boat carrying unarmed Filipino soldiers armed with machetes (large logging knives), axes, and hammers at the Second Thomas Shoal. The collision resulted in the amputation of the right thumb of one Filipino soldier, and several others were injured.

Since President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. took office, tensions between the Philippines and China in the South China Sea have been escalating. Unlike his predecessor, Rodrigo Duterte, who maintained a pro-China stance, Marcos is enhancing defense cooperation with the United States as a counterbalance to China. There are growing concerns that if the conflict between the two countries escalates further, the situation could deteriorate and potentially draw the U.S. into the fray.

Although the Philippines’s soldiers were injured in the collision on the 17th of last month, Marcos stated that the mutual defense treaty with the United States would not come into effect. However, he emphasized that he would “continue to defend the territorial interests of the Philippines, regardless of the sacrifices.”

China is causing friction with the United States and the international community, including Vietnam, the Philippines, Taiwan, Malaysia, and Brunei, by claiming sovereignty over approximately 90% of the South China Sea.

Daniel Kim
content@viewusglobal.com

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