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Philippines maintaining ‘choices open’ on South China Sea: Authorities

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MANILA: The Philippine defence division mentioned on Thursday (Apr 8) it was maintaining “all our choices open” as a diplomatic row with Beijing grows over a whole bunch of Chinese language vessels within the contested South China Sea.

Tensions over the resource-rich waters have spiked in latest weeks after greater than 200 Chinese language boats have been detected at Whitsun Reef, within the Spratly Islands, the place China and the Philippines have rival claims.

China, which claims nearly the whole lot of the ocean, has refused repeated appeals by the Philippines to withdraw the vessels, which Manila says unlawfully entered its unique financial zone.

READ: Philippines’ Duterte calls for peaceful resolution of China boats impasse

Whereas President Rodrigo Duterte has appeared reluctant to confront China on the problem, one in every of his prime aides warned Monday the boats might ignite “undesirable hostilities”.

“Because the scenario (within the South China Sea) evolves, we maintain all our choices open in managing the scenario, together with leveraging our partnerships with different nations akin to the USA,” Philippine defence division spokesman Arsenio Andolong mentioned on Thursday.

Andolong’s feedback got here after the USA reminded China of Washington’s treaty obligations to the Philippines within the occasion of an assault within the waters.

“An armed assault in opposition to the Philippines’ armed forces, public vessels or plane within the Pacific, together with within the South China Sea, will set off our obligations below the US-Philippines Mutual Protection Treaty,” State Division spokesman Ned Value instructed reporters on Wednesday.

READ: US warns China over moves on Philippines, Taiwan 

“We share the issues of our Philippine allies concerning the continued reported massing of PRC maritime militia close to the Whitsun Reef,” Value mentioned, referring to the Individuals’s Republic of China.

Most of the boats detected at Whitsun Reef on Mar 7 have since scattered throughout the Spratly archipelago, which can also be claimed in entire or partly by Brunei, Malaysia, Taiwan and Vietnam.

Beijing usually invokes the so-called nine-dash line to justify its obvious historic rights over a lot of the South China Sea, and it has ignored a 2016 worldwide tribunal choice that declared this assertion to be with out foundation.

Duterte, elected in 2016, put the ocean dispute on the again burner as he sought nearer financial ties with the Philippines’ superpower neighbour and strike a course impartial of its former colonial grasp the USA.

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