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Updated December 17th, 2023 at 16:27 IST

US and China clash over Philippines with disputed claims, defense treaty, and sovereignty at stake

The dispute centers on Second Thomas Shoal, with China dismissing U.S. statements as an endorsement of Philippine infringement on Chinese sovereignty.

Yuvraj Tyagi
Chinese Ship
China rebuffs U.S. support for the Philippines in West Philippine Sea tensions, asserting sovereignty. | Image:AP
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China has rebuffed recent US remarks supporting the Philippines amidst West Philippine Sea (WPS) tensions, as reported by CNN. The US condemned China's use of water cannons against Philippine vessels delivering aid near Bajo de Masinloc. China countered US assertions, emphasizing its defense of sovereignty. The US reiterated support for the Philippines and the South China Sea Mutual Defense Treaty, sparking accusations from China of endorsing Philippine provocation.

The dispute centers on Second Thomas Shoal, with China asserting no lawful claims. The US stands by the Mutual Defense Treaty, covering armed attacks on Philippine forces, vessels, or aircraft in the South China Sea. Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Mao Ning dismissed the US statement as endorsing Philippine infringement on Chinese sovereignty. Ning stressed Scarborough Shoal consistently falls within China's territory, accusing the Philippines of unauthorized entry on December 9. 

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Mao Ning defended China Coast Guard actions as lawful and legitimate, criticizing the US for emboldening Philippine violations. Despite US backing, China remains resolute in safeguarding territorial sovereignty and maritime interests. 

Indian Navy operations in North Pacific 

On a different front, India's Kamorta-class corvette INS Kadmatt is on a Long Range Operational Deployment to the North Pacific Ocean. Its recent entry into Yokosuka, Japan involved professional exchanges and community activities, enhancing maritime partnerships with the Japan Maritime Self Defence Force. 

INS Kadmatt, equipped for Anti-Submarine Warfare, underscores India's commitment to regional stability. Fuelling operations with JMSDF Fast Combat Support Ship, JS Towada, demonstrate cooperative efforts under the Reciprocal Provisioning of Supply and Services agreement.

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MV Ruen | Credit- Indian Navy PRO

Meanwhile, the Indian Navy recenlty responded swiftly to a distress call by MV Ruen. The Indian Navy intercepted the hijacked Maltese-flagged MV Ruen in the Arabian Sea. The vessel, carrying 18 sailors, sent a Mayday message on December 14, indicating unauthorized boarding. Currently, the Indian Navy is coordinating with UK Maritime Trade Operations and European Union Naval Force to continuously monitor the vessel's movement towards the Somali coast. Somali pirates, believed responsible, have taken the crew hostage.

Counter-piracy efforts intensify 

Spain's frigate Victoria, part of EUNAVFOR, joined the Indian Navy in the area, focusing on gaining awareness and evaluating further actions. The incident off Socotra has reignited concerns about piracy in the western Indian Ocean, prompting international efforts to ensure maritime security. 

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The Indian Navy remains committed to the safety of merchant shipping, reflecting its role as the first responder in the region. The situation is closely monitored in collaboration with global partners to counter piracy effectively. 

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Published December 17th, 2023 at 16:27 IST

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