October 26, 2023

Holding the Line Against China’s Maritime Bullying: The Philippines Sets a New Standard

Recent collisions between Chinese and Philippine vessels in the South China Sea are the latest indications of rising tensions between the two nations over their maritime disputes that could potentially draw in the United States, a treaty ally of the Philippines for over 70 years. Despite the risk that tensions could further escalate, Washington must stand firmly behind Manila. Beijing is testing not only Manila’s resolve, but also that of Washington, seeking to determine whether the Middle East crisis is distracting U.S. attention away from the Indo-Pacific.

The Philippines’ bold actions provide a powerful example to other Southeast Asian nations on how they, too, can resist Chinese violations of their sovereignty and access to crucial resources and livelihoods.

China has long pursued its illegal and expansive maritime claims through “gray zone” tactics — coercive behavior that is aimed at changing the status quo but that is below a threshold that would prompt a military response. More recently, the focus of its maritime bullying has been the Philippines, which in the last nine months, has faced Chinese military-grade lasers and water cannons aimed at preventing it from resupplying an outpost in the disputed Spratly Islands.

Read the full article from The Diplomat.

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