Philippines strikes security deals as tensions rise with China at sea

Philippine and Chinese coast guard personnel deploy fenders as they brace for a collision during an incident Tuesday, as Philippine ships conducted a routine resupply mission to troops stationed at the Second Thomas Shoal in the South China Sea. (Ezra Acayan/Getty Images)
Published March 9, 2024

MANILA — The Philippines has been striking new defense agreements with other countries at a rapid clip, seeking to build what officials here call a “network of alliances” that could deter Chinese aggression in disputed waters.

The Philippines has signed or entered discussions over new security agreements with at least 18 countries since a Chinese coast guard vessel flashed a military-grade laser at a Philippine coast guard ship in the South China Sea last year, according to the Philippine Defense Department.

While the deepening Philippine alliance with the United States — which includes granting the U.S. military expanded access to Philippine military bases — has drawn much attention, Manila’s security campaign goes beyond Washington.

President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. made nearly a dozen overseas visits in 2023, many to seek security assistance and military equipment. This year, his schedule includes delivering a rare address before the Australian Parliament as well as the keynote speech at Asia’s premier defense summit, the Shangri-La Dialogue, in Singapore.



RELATED: Majority of Chinese ships leave Ayungin

Published March 9,  2024

MOST of the Chinese vessels that took part in last Tuesday’s harassment of Philippine ships on a resupply mission in Ayungin Shoal had left, a ranking Philippine Navy officer said Friday.

Western Command Commander Vice Admiral Alberto Carlos said only one China Coast Guard (CCG) and two militia ships remained near Ayungin on Thursday, down from the 26 vessels last Tuesday.

Carlos said not all 26 vessels took part in the dangerous blocking maneuvers and the water cannoning of a supply boat.

One of the Chinese vessels collided with and slightly damaged a Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) ship.

Carlos was among the four Navy personnel aboard the PCG ship who was injured after he was hit by pieces of glass when a high-pressure jet of water fired by a Chinese vessel shattered a glass casing.

Carlos said that the number of Chinese vessels near Ayungin Shoal usually surges whenever a resupply mission is underway.



RELATED: PH drawing up new tactics for Ayungin missions

A RED LINE To slip past water cannon attacks and blocking maneuvers of Chinese ships, last seen during the incident in Ayungin Shoal on Tuesday, the Philippine military will focus on speed and maneuverability in its future missions to its outpost there, the BRP Sierra Madre, according to Vice Adm. Alberto Carlos, chief of the Western Command. —VIDEO GRAB FROM PCG


Published March 9, 2024

The Philippines will devise new tactics for its next resupply missions to a remote outpost in Ayungin (Second Thomas) Shoal, focusing on quickness and flexibility to dodge China’s obstructions, a senior military official said on Thursday, following a collision and water cannon attack earlier this week.

The chief of the Western Command (Wescom) said the Philippines would stand its ground and maintain its presence in the shoal through the grounded warship BRP Sierra Madre, despite persistent harassment by the Chinese, as Manila warned Beijing not to step on its “red line” by attempting to remove the outpost.

The No. 1 concern for resupply boats to be used is the speed and maneuverability,” Vice Adm. Alberto Carlos said in an interview on Thursday.




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