(VitalNews.org) – In early February, the US secured a deal with the Philippines providing them access to four additional bases in key locations to create a remote arc for monitoring China’s military activities. Still, it provides the nation of islands enhanced security because China has stepped up aggressive measures in and around the South China Sea, threatening resources, land, and trade routes. Recently, a Chinese warship reportedly targeted a Phillippine Coast Guard crew.
Col. Medel Aguilar, a spokesman for the Manila-based government, accused a Chinese ship of blocking a Phillippine Coast Guard vessel on Monday, February 6. Reportedly, the Chinese crew twice aimed a “military-grade” green laser light at the bridge of the Phillippine ship, causing temporary blindness to command staff.
Chinese warship aims 'military grade' laser at Filipino coast guards https://t.co/dzpVuYjOHu
— Daily Mail Australia (@DailyMailAU) February 13, 2023
The Coast Guard ship was traveling the South China Sea to the Second Thomas Shoal to resupply the crew of the BRP Sierra Madre, a World War II vessel intentionally stranded on the shoal in 1999 to strengthen Phillippine sovereignty claims to the nearby Spratly archipelago. Reports also claim the Chinese ship sailed perilously close to the Phillippine vessel attempting to block it from the atoll.
In a race to claim more of the South China Sea, especially near suspected petroleum reserves, China began constructing artificial islands in 2014. The nation has built 10 so far. China has built at least one of the islands inside the Phillippine’s economic zone, a clear encroachment on the island nation’s sovereignty. Additionally, China has militarized those artificial islands, raising more concerns locally.
Despite Manila’s more than 200 diplomatic protests against Beijing’s aggressions in the South China Sea, Chinese diplomats told President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. they intended to pursue maritime relations “cordially” with the Phillippines during his January visit to China. Yet, in response to escalating Chinese aggression, Marcos visited Japan during the week of February 6 to discuss increasing a security military alliance between the two nations through a Visiting Forces Agreement.
Japan, prompted by China’s regional aggression and posturing, announced its most significant military increases since World War II.
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