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Blinken, Manalo raise alarm over China’s ‘escalatory actions’

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United States Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Philippines Foreign Affairs Secretary Enrique Manalo raised the alarm over the recent “escalatory actions” of China in the West Philippine Sea.

The US State Department said the phone conversation revolved around the violent behavior demonstrated by China Coast Guard and maritime militia vessels against a lawful routine rotation and resupply (RoRe) mission of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) in Ayungin Shoal on June 17.

US State Department spokesperson Matthew Miller said Blinken called China’s actions “dangerous and irresponsible.”

“Secretary Blinken emphasized that the PRC’s actions undermine regional peace and stability and underscored the United States’ ironclad commitments to the Philippines under our Mutual Defense Treaty (MDT),” Miller said in a statement.

The Philippine Navy, for its part, said there will be “changes” in its protocols after their rubber boats were attacked, but did not give details.

Philippine Navy spokesperson for West Philippine Sea (WPS) Commodore Roy Vincent Trinidad also urged other countries to be vigilant amid China’s aggressive actions.

“Other countries should now be very careful in looking at what China is doing in the WPS, because it will also be done to them, if not it’s already being done,” Trinidad said.

“Our actions will always be guided by the rules of engagement. It will always be within the bounds of international law. We are here to assert our sovereignty. We are here to ensure our sovereign rights are protected,” he added.

Chinese coast guard sailors brandishing weapons including sticks, knives and an axe clashed with the Philippine naval vessels, a dramatic new footage released by the Armed Forces of the Philippines showed.

The AFP said a Chinese axe-wielding sailor had “threatened to injure” a Filipino soldier, while others were “explicitly threatening to harm” Filipino troops.

A Filipino sailor lost a thumb in the incident, which saw the Chinese coast guard confiscate or destroy Philippine equipment, including guns.

Manila’s footage of the clash stands in stark contrast to photos released by Beijing’s state media on Wednesday, which did not show Chinese forces wielding weapons.

Beijing insisted that its coast guard behaved in a “professional and restrained” way during the confrontation and claimed “no direct measures” were taken against Filipino personnel.

But in the clip shared by Manila, a Chinese sailor standing on the deck of one of the boats can be clearly seen waving an axe.

Another clip showed a Chinese coast guard sailor violently striking the inflatable boat with a stick. A second man can also be seen stabbing the boat with a knife.

“The (Chinese coast guard) personnel then began hurling rocks and other objects at our personnel,” Manila said.

“They also slashed the (inflatable boats), rendering them inoperable.”

The Filipino sailors, clad in brown camouflage with helmets and vests, were not carrying weapons in the clips.

“Amid this violent confrontation, the CCG (Chinese coast guard) also deployed tear gas, intensifying the chaos and confusion, while continuously blaring sirens to further disrupt communication,” the caption read. With AFP

Editor’s Note: This is an updated article. Originally posted with the headline “Blinken, Manalo discuss China’s recent “escalatory actions”

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