South China Sea continues to be source of tensions for countries like Philippines and China as the latter just rammed a boat carrying Filipino fishermen. Furthermore, the United States is reportedly coming to the Philippines’ rescue by deploying troops and setting up military bases to deter Chinese aggression.
According to reports, a boat with 11 Filipino fishermen was rammed by Chinese Coast Guard rubber boats at Panatag Shoal (international name: Scarborough Shoal). The incident happened earlier in March and is expected to push the tensions over the disputed region further. According to the fishermen, Chinese Coast Guard drove them away twice: on March 5 and March 6.
“One of their rubber boats carried three men in uniform. [They] approached us and told us in English to leave,” Inquirer quoted Junmar Pumicpic, 25, captain of the FB Bubhoy.
“This is China Coast Guard. Go back to Subic,” the fisherman quoted the China coast guards.
“We were surprised that they knew we were from Subic. After telling us to leave, they returned to the shoal and we thought [that was it],” added Pumicpic.
Since the encounter, the Philippines passed a case in the United Nations Permanent Court of Arbitration to challenge China’s claims to the disputed region, as reported by Inquirer. Nonetheless, the filing only infuriated China and the country has started initiating activities in Panatag.
However, the Philippines won’t have to face China’s threat alone as a new report from the Wall Street Journal says that US forces will soon be in Philippine military bases in light of the threat. According to the report, US troops will be included in five Philippine military bases following high-level talks in Washington. The agreement involving the deployment of troops to the country is in line with “Obama administration’s strategy of rebalancing attention and resources to the Asia-Pacific region.”