After Washington warned that an attack on the Philippines would trigger a mutual defense treaty, China’s military chased a US cruiser out of another disputed area in the West Philippine Sea on Monday.
Beijing reaffirmed its rights to parts of the sea that are also claimed by states in Southeast Asia. It rejected the Biden administration’s Sunday proclamation of support for a 2016 international tribunal verdict in the Philippines’ favor, which threw out the majority of them.
China is becoming more assertive in pursuing its territorial claims, which is escalating tensions with Japan, India, Vietnam, and the Philippines.
After the USS Benfold entered Chinese territorial waters in the Paracel Islands, China’s People’s Liberation Army stated it dispatched ships and planes.
In March, Philippine authorities saw more than 200 Chinese fishing vessels off the coast of Union Banks, near Whitsun Reef, and asked that China leave the region. For weeks, China refused the demand, insisting that the reef is its own domain.
Whitsun Reef, according to the Philippines, is located within an internationally recognized area of water where it has exclusive rights to utilize fisheries, oil, gas, and other sea resources. It highlighted a 2016 judgement by an international tribunal that unanimously backed the Philippines’ sovereign rights to the so-called exclusive economic zone, invalidating China’s huge claims to the waterway on historical grounds.