(Bloomberg) -- The Philippines said it will summon Beijing’s envoy in Manila after President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. slammed China’s “dangerous actions” in the South China Sea over the weekend, including ramming a Filipino boat.
The Southeast Asian nation has lodged formal complaints with Beijing, Department of Foreign Affairs spokesperson Teresita Daza said in a briefing on Monday. “We are also summoning the ambassador from the Chinese embassy in Manila later this afternoon to protest the incidents,” she added.
Marcos called China’s actions in the disputed waters an “outright and blatant violation of international law” and that the country will “remain undeterred.”
“The aggression and provocations perpetrated by the China Coast Guard and their Chinese maritime militia against our vessels and personnel over the weekend have only further steeled our determination to defend and protect our nation’s sovereignty, sovereign rights, and jurisdiction in the West Philippine Sea,” Marcos said a post on X late on Sunday, using Manila’s term for the South China Sea.
The Philippines said its vessels were damaged after being “directly targeted” on Sunday by a Chinese coast guard ship with a water cannon during a supply mission to Second Thomas Shoal and that a Filipino boat was also rammed by a Chinese vessel. On Saturday, Manila said the Chinese Coast Guard fired water cannons at Filipino civilian ships near Scarborough Shoal.
Manila has been provoking Beijing as emboldened by “external forces,” China’s People’s Liberation Army said on Monday in an article published on its official newspaper. The PLA said certain hegemonic countries have tried every means to instigate trouble and create divisions in the South China Sea and told the Philippines to immediately cease its actions.
The latest flare-up in the South China Sea followed a meeting between Marcos and Chinese President Xi Jinping last month in San Francisco where both leaders discussed ways to ease tensions in contested waters.
“There’s a dissonance with what is being said and promised with what is happening in the waters. And that is the reason why we are calling on China to be a responsible member of the international community,” Daza said.
National Security Council Assistant Director Jonathan Malaya said in the same briefing that the weekend incidents represent a “serious escalation” on the part of China, but later added that he doesn’t think they are an “act of war.” “This is just part of the cat and mouse game that China seems to be utilizing to further its own interests,” he said.
Marcos said he’s in constant communication with the Philippines’ national security and defense chiefs, and have directed uniformed personnel “to conduct their missions with the utmost regard for the safety of our personnel, yet proceed with a mission-oriented mindset.”
Marcos reiterated that both Scarborough Shoal and Second Thomas Shoal are within Philippine territory. “No one but the Philippines has a legitimate right or legal basis to operate anywhere in the West Philippine Sea.,” he said.
China has sweeping claims over the South China Sea, an assertion that’s been met by growing pushback in the Philippines under Marcos, whose administration has publicized Beijing’s tactics in the disputed waters.
--With assistance from Ditas Lopez and Qianwei Zhang.
(Updates with details throughout.)
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