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Philippine diplomat witnessed Chinese language ships’ aggressive actions in disputed South China Sea

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MANILA, Philippines — A senior Filipino diplomat identified for his previous expletive-laced tirade in opposition to China joined a coast guard journey to the disputed South China Sea final week and noticed Beijing’s ships block and almost collide with Philippine vessels, together with one he was on.

Teodoro Locsin Jr. was on one in every of two Philippine coast guard vessels that escorted two Philippine boats to ship meals and different provides to a Filipino marine territorial outpost within the Second Thomas Shoal on Oct. 4, the Division of Overseas Affairs mentioned in a press release on Tuesday. It was not instantly clear why the general public disclosure of his participation within the journey was delayed.

President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. appointed Locsin, 74, as a particular envoy to China in August, along with his position because the Philippine ambassador to the United Kingdom based mostly in London.

“As particular envoy, he’s anticipated to be updated on the issues that he’ll focus on with China and there’s no higher option to perceive the West Philippine Sea problem than to see, for himself, what is going on in our personal waters,” Division of Overseas Affairs spokesperson Teresita Daza mentioned, utilizing the Philippine identify for the South China Sea waters nearer the nation’s western coast.

“We’re assured that this firsthand data will permit him to successfully convey our considerations to China,” Daza mentioned.

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Because the Philippine international secretary beneath Marcos’s predecessor, Rodrigo Duterte, Locsin usually lashed out with blunt language on social media at China’s more and more aggressive actions within the disputed waters.

When a swarm of Chinese language boats converged in a Philippines-claimed reef in 2021, the then-foreign secretary demanded in a tweet that the Chinese language get out, utilizing an expletive-laced critique.

“What are you doing to our friendship? You. Not us. We’re attempting. You. You’re like an unsightly oaf forcing your attentions on a good-looking man who desires to be a buddy; to not father a Chinese language province,” Locsin, a journalist, Harvard-educated lawyer and politician, mentioned in a separate Might 2021 tweet.

Locsin has not issued a press release since he witnessed firsthand eight hours of hostilities on Wednesday on the Second Thomas Shoal.

A wealthy fishing space off the northwestern Philippines, the shoal has been occupied by a small Philippine army contingent however surrounded by China coast guard and militia vessels in a decades-long territorial standoff and has been the scene of latest faceoffs between China and the Philippines.

Two provide boats manned by navy personnel and escorted by two bigger Philippine coast guard vessels breached a Chinese language coast guard blockade and succeeded in delivering meals, water and different provides to Filipino marines and navy personnel stationed on a long-marooned however nonetheless actively commissioned navy ship, the BRP Sierra Madre, on the shallows of the shore.

Chinese language coast guard and militia ships, nonetheless, blocked and surrounded the 2 Philippine coast guard escort vessels, together with the BRP Cabra, which carried Locsin, from approaching the Second Thomas Shoal.

A Chinese language coast guard ship got here inside a meter (3 ft) of colliding with the opposite Philippine coast guard vessel, the BRP Sindangan, whose crewmembers averted a collision by abruptly reversing the engine’s thrust after which turning it off, in keeping with Philippine coast guard spokesperson Commodore Jay Tarriela.

“We condemn the conduct of the Chinese language coast guard vessel. They’ve been violating worldwide regulation, notably the collision rules,” Tarriela mentioned at a information briefing Friday.

It is “the closest harmful maneuver” by any Chinese language coast guard ship in opposition to a Philippine patrol ship, he mentioned.

The incident was witnessed by a number of journalists, together with from The Related Press, who had been invited by the Philippine coast guard to hitch the journey as a part of a method aimed toward exposing aggressive Chinese language actions within the South China Sea.

A serious conflict within the South China Sea, one of many world’s busiest commerce routes, might probably contain america, which has vowed to defend the Philippines, its treaty ally, if Filipino forces, ships or plane come beneath armed assault.

China claims nearly your complete waterway on historic floor however this was invalidated by a 2016 arbitration tribunal ruling. China refused to take part within the arbitration sought by the Philippines, rejected the ruling as a sham and continues to defy it.

Except for China, the Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei and Taiwan have been concerned for many years within the territorial disputes, a long-feared flashpoint in Asia.


Related Press journalist Joeal Calipitan contributed to this report.

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