US Navy to bolster deterrence vs ‘destabilizing’ actions at West PH Sea
MANILA, Philippines — The United States will strengthen its deterrence power as a Navy official described China’s recent behavior in the West Philippine Sea as “destabilizing.”
In an online press briefing, US Navy Captain Claudine Caluori, mission commander of Pacific Partnership 2023, was asked if Washington would help monitor the situation in the disputed waters following the October 22 collision between Chinese and Philippine vessels near Ayungin Shoal.
“These actions are destabilizing, and they threaten the region’s security and prosperity, and this is why our primary focus [is] on strengthening the deterrence in collaboration with our growing network allies and partners…” Caluori answered.
“While I cannot comment directly on the US response, again I will say that the US will continue to fly, sail, and operate safely and responsibly whenever international law allows,” she added.
The US Navy was reported to have maintained its presence in the West Philippine Sea. During a Philippine resupply mission to BRP Sierra Madre in September, a US Navy aircraft was detected in the area.
The BRP Sierra Madre was grounded in the Ayungin Shoal (Second Thomas Shoal) since 1999 as Manila asserts its sovereign rights in the West Philippine Sea.
Just a couple of weeks ago, Chinese ships hit a resupply boat contracted by the Armed Forces of the Philippines as well as a Philippine Coast Guard vessel during a rotation and resupply mission for the crew aboard the warship – a behavior that the Philippine government deemed as a “serious escalation.”
China has been insisting that it owns almost the entire South China Sea, including the West Philippine Sea, even though an international tribunal invalidated its claim through an Arbitral Award in July 2016.