Philippines to boost diplomacy and defence capability as South China Sea ‘countermeasures’

Philippines to boost diplomacy and defence capability as South China Sea 'countermeasures'

China’s foreign ministry on Monday said regardless of what policies the Philippines rolls out, none would affect China’s maritime rights of sovereignty claims.

China claims almost the entire South China Sea as its territory, policed by an armada of coastguard vessels, some more than 1,000km away from its mainland.

The Philippines and China have had a series run-ins at sea in the past year over disputed maritime features, coinciding with Manila ramping up defence engagements with ally and former colonial power the United States.

The latest flare-up occurred on Mar 24, when China used water cannon to disrupt a Philippine resupply mission to the Second Thomas Shoal for soldiers guarding a warship intentionally grounded on a reef 25 years ago.

Defence officials traded barbs late last week, with China saying the Philippines was to blame for the breakdown of relations, accusing its neighbour of provocations, misinformation and treachery.

The Philippines responded, accusing China of being patronising and intimidating smaller countries.