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‘All options open on South China Sea’

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Amid row over Chinese boats, Philippines says it might leverage international partnerships

The Philippine defence division mentioned on Thursday it was conserving its choices open as a diplomatic row with Beijing grows over a whole lot of Chinese vessels within the contested South China Sea.

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

While President Rodrigo Duterte has appeared reluctant to confront China on the problem, one among his high aides warned Monday that the boats might ignite “unwanted hostilities”. “As the situation evolves, we keep all our options open in managing the situation, including leveraging our partnerships with other nations such as the United States,” Philippine defence division spokesman Arsenio Andolong mentioned on Thursday.

Mr. Andolong’s feedback got here after the United States reminded China of Washington’s treaty obligations to the Philippines within the occasion of an assault within the waters. “An armed attack against the Philippines’ armed forces, public vessels or aircraft in the Pacific, including in the South China Sea, will trigger our obligations under the U.S.-Philippines Mutual Defense Treaty,” State Department spokesman Ned Price instructed mediapersons on Wednesday.

“We share the concerns of our Philippine allies regarding the continued reported massing of PRC [People’s Republic of China] maritime militia near the Whitsun Reef,” Mr. Price mentioned.

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