The Philippines and China are fighting in the sea over a “floating object”, possibly the remains of a missile

The Philippines and China are fighting in the sea over a "floating object", possibly the remains of a missile

Philippine warship in the South China Sea.A.P.’s photo

The incident occurred on the day US Vice President Kamala Harris arrived in the Philippine capital, Manila, for a multi-day visit to the country. The tension between the Philippines and China, which disputes over islands and parts of the South China Sea, comes within the framework of talks between Harris and Philippine President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr.

The thing that was revealed was not officially revealed. According to the Chinese newspaper South China Morning Post Could it be the remains of a Chinese missile? According to Philippine Navy spokesman Cheryl Tindog, it did indeed look like fragments of a missile casing, similar to those found a month earlier off the Philippine island of Busuanga.

Sunday’s incident is like a modern kind of hacking. A Philippine Navy ship towed the object near Thito Island, an island in the disputed Spratly archipelago that had been captured by the Philippines. A large Chinese coast guard ship rushed to the Philippine Navy ship and blocked passage twice. Finally, a boat was launched from the Chinese ship and rushed to the object, after which the Chinese crew members cut the rope and took it to their mother ship.

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Well-intentioned attack

Kamala Harris’ visit is part of the US’s assault on goodwill in Southeast Asia. This began with President Joe Biden’s visits to the ASEAN Summit in Cambodia and the G20 in Indonesia. Harris then visited the APEC Economic Summit in Thailand and traveled to Manila on Sunday.

On Tuesday, she will visit the western province of Palawan, an archipelago considered a Philippine outpost in the South China Sea. Palawan is a large naval base, which Harris will have a look at. With her visit, the Vice President wants to strengthen US relations with the Philippines and with President Marcos. These relations deteriorated under the former president, Rodrigo Duterte, who sought rapprochement with China.

In return for American aid against a powerful China, the United States hopes to be allowed to build military bases in the Philippines. One of the largest US naval bases outside the US was in the Philippines, but this base was closed in the early 1990s after a protracted argument over port rental costs.

There has long been a dispute between the Philippines and China over parts of the South China Sea. China claims “historical rights” to the entire sea and the islands in it, but the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague ruled in favor of the Philippines in 2016, ruling that China had no “historic right” at all. Since then, China has not paid attention to this statement and has set up airfields and military points on many islands and atolls, including the Spratly Islands. Thito is the only atoll in the Spratlys with an airport in the Philippines.

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