Breaking: Tensions Soar in South China Sea as U.S. Vows Unwavering Support for Philippines! What Happened Next Will Shock You!

Secretary of State is set to emphasize the unwavering commitment of the States to its alliance with the Philippines, amidst escalating tensions between and Filipino forces in the disputed South China Sea, according to the U.S. State Department.

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken
U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken (Image source: Twitter)

Blinken, the latest high-ranking official to visit the U.S. treaty ally, held discussions with his counterpart, Enrique Manalo, on Tuesday, prior to scheduled meetings with Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. and other senior officials in Manila.

In the upcoming month, President Joe Biden will host Marcos and Japanese Prime Minister in a White House summit, highlighting concerns over China's increasingly aggressive actions in the South China Sea and North Korea's nuclear program.

Two weeks ago, a confrontation at sea saw the Chinese coast guard block and deploy water cannons against Philippine vessels, resulting in minor injuries to a Filipino admiral and four sailors near the disputed Second Thomas Shoal. The incident also led to two minor collisions between Chinese and Philippine vessels, prompting Manila's Department of Foreign Affairs to summon China's deputy ambassador to express protest against the actions of the Chinese coast guard.

Following the hostilities, Washington reiterated its commitment to defend the Philippines in case of armed attacks against Filipino forces, ships, or aircraft in the South China Sea.

The Chinese coast guard defended its actions as measures taken in accordance with the law against Philippine ships that it claimed had illegally intruded into waters adjacent to Ren'ai Reef, also known as Second Thomas Shoal.

The Second Thomas Shoal, occupied by a small Philippine navy contingent but surrounded by Chinese coast guard ships and other allied vessels, has been the site of several tense skirmishes between Chinese and Philippine coast guard ships, with the recent confrontation being particularly serious due to injuries sustained by Filipino navy personnel and damage to their vessel.

During meetings with Marcos and Manalo, Blinken will focus on advancing shared economic priorities and reiterating the United States' unwavering commitment to the U.S.-Philippine alliance. Discussions will encompass areas for deepening cooperation on bilateral and global issues, including regional peace and stability, human rights, democracy, and economic prosperity.

Outside the presidential palace, left-wing activists staged a rally opposing Blinken's visit and U.S. involvement in the territorial disputes.

Apart from China and the Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia, Taiwan, and Brunei also have overlapping claims in the resource-rich South China Sea, a critical global trade route.

China asserts almost the entire South China Sea, having transformed barren reefs into seven islands with missile defenses, including three with runways, to bolster its territorial claims and patrols.

In response, Washington has been strengthening military alliances and security relationships in the Indo-Pacific, including with the Philippines, Vietnam, and other countries at odds with China in the disputed sea.

Following China's effective seizure of the Scarborough Shoal off the northwestern Philippines in 2012, Manila pursued international arbitration against Beijing, which resulted in a ruling largely in favor of the Philippines in 2016. However, China rejected the ruling and continues to defy it.

Associated Press journalists Joeal Calupitan and Aaron Favila in Manila contributed to this report.

Leave a Reply