World

The Philippines has said it is contingency planning for an escalation of hostilities with China.

The two nations have been in a series of confrontations in the South China Sea, one involving a crew being forced to stave off Chinese forces that attempting to board Philippine vessels.

Relations have significantly deteriorated this year after several collisions and repeated stand-offs near disputed features of the sea.

The Philippines has taken a harder line with China this year, coinciding with its growing military ties with defence treaty ally the United States and increased security engagement with other Western powers.

“Expect more coercive actions from China, short of armed attack,” Alberto Carlos, chief of the Philippines’ Western Command told CNN Philippines.

Image:
Philippines BRP Jose Rizal (FF150), right, and USS Gabrielle Giffords (LCS 10) during a tactical exercise between Philippines and the United Statesin the West Philippine Sea. Pic: AP

“Next after the water cannon is probably ramming and also they will attempt to board our vessel, which is something that we will not allow them to do.”

That scenario, Carlos said, was part of Philippines war games exercises and academic discussions on what other actions China might take.

More on China

It comes after the Philippines summoned China’s ambassador to protest “back-to-back harassments” at the weekend in different locations, including collisions and use of water cannon.

Beijing has repeatedly accused Philippine vessels operating in Manila’s exclusive economic zone (EEZ) of trespassing in Chinese waters.

Read more:
China and Philippines trade accusations after vessels rammed in disputed South China Sea
US warns China of intervention after collision with ships from Philippines

The Philippines has grown increasingly wary of China’s coastguard and the presence of hundreds of Chinese fishing boats that it considers to be militia forces.

“We’re brainstorming this, we are wargaming this and we are prepared for any contingency that will happen,” said Vice Admiral Carlos, whose remit includes defence of the Philippines’ EEZ.

China claims sovereignty over almost the entire South China Sea, a conduit for more than £2.36trn of annual ship-borne commerce.

Those claims, which an arbitral tribunal has declared baseless, extend to the exclusive economic zones of the Philippines, Vietnam, Indonesia, Malaysia and Brunei.

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