During a rotation and resupply mission, a Philippine supply boat attempts to avoid a Chinese coast guard vessel off Second Thomas Shoal, also known as Ayungin Shoal, in the disputed South China Sea.
Beijing’s behavior in South China Sea becomes suspicious.
A marginal waterway in the Western Pacific Ocean, the South China Sea has substantial oil and gas potential in addition to thriving fisheries. Through the Karimata and Bangka Straits, it connects to the East China Sea, the Philippine Sea, the Sulu Sea, and the Java Sea.
The commander of the U.S. Navy’ Seventh Fleet believes that China’s ‘aggressive behavior’ in the South China Sea, including the use of a water cannon by its coast guard against a Philippine vessel, needs to be contested and restrained.
In the midst of “shared challenges” in the region, Rear Admiral Karl Thomas gave the Philippines assurances of American support.
The Seventh Fleet, with its headquarters in Japan, is the largest of the US Navy’s forward-deployed fleets. It runs up to 70 ships, has about 150 aircraft, and more than 27,000 sailors.
Thomas told Reuters about his opinion on South China Sea: people that are functioning in the gray area need to be challenged and have to push back when they are pushing you and taking more and more from you in order to sail and function.
On August 5, a Chinese coast guard vessel fired a water cannon at a Philippine boat that was transporting supplies to troops on a battleship Manila that had been purposefully grounded on a shoal in the South China Sea.
This incident marked a rift in the regional competition between Washington and Beijing.
A request for comment about such behavior in South China Sea was not immediately answered by the Chinese Embassy in Manila.
In connection to the South China Sea dispute, in order to ‘understand what his challenges are to find opportunities to be able to help him,’ Thomas claimed he had spoken with Vice Admiral Alberto Carlos, commander of the Philippine Western Command, which is in charge of overseeing the South China Sea.
Thomas claimed that he boarded an aircraft out of Manila on Saturday “to go out and check out the South China Sea.
In 2016, a tribunal ruled that Beijing’s broad claim to sovereignty over the majority of the South China Sea had any validity in law, leading to the Philippines winning an international arbitration judgement against China.
In the South China Sea, China has created armed artificial islands, and despite its claim to historical ownership, these islands are inside the exclusive economic zones of the Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei, and Indonesia.