“Battle of Words in the South China Sea: China and Philippines Both Lay Claim

The increasing tensions between China and the Philippines have drawn attention after collisions in the disputed South China Sea. Chinese and Filipino accusations of each other’s provocative actions have intensified in recent weeks as the two countries feud over overlapping territorial claims in the region. The Philippines accuses China of deliberately running over a Filipino fishing boat in the Reed Bank last month, while five Chinese boats were reported to have swarmed a Philippine-flagged cargo vessel in a nearby waters around the same time. Chinese authorities on the other hand have accused the Philippines of deliberately sending out vessels to harass Chinese fishing vessels in the region. In a statement, the spokesperson of the Chinese foreign ministry said that they categorically reject the Philippine side’s “wild claims and malicious slanders” and accused the Philippines of violating the international laws of the sea. At the same time, Philippine Defence Secretary Delfin Lorenzana has accused China of turning the South China Sea into a “sea of terror” and warned against any attempts to “bully” Filipino vessels in the area. Lorenzana also said that the Philippines will file a diplomatic protest against China, which will be discussed during upcoming talks between the two countries. Apart from the above incidents, Chinese vessels have also been encroaching in Philippine-claimed waters of the West Philippine Sea, which has led to daily protests and mobilisations by Filipino activists. This is further adding to the increasing tensions between the two countries. The conflict spills over in the international relations arena as well, with both countries accusing each other of acting in bad faith and violating international laws. As the tension between China and the Philippines continues to escalate, experts fear this might further inflame the already volatile situation in the South China Sea. It remains to be seen how the two countries will strike a balance between their conflicting interests in the region.