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Marcos says Philippines won't 'instigate war' with China

June 23, 2024

Philippine President Marcos Ferdinand Jr. praised Filipino navy personnel's "restraint" in a clash with the Chinese coast guard. Beijing and Manila both claim parts of the disputed South China Sea.

Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos Jr.
Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. told navy personnel that Manila wanted to resolve the dispute with China 'peacefully'Image: Evelyn Hockstein/REUTERS

Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. said on Sunday that Manila won't start a war over the South China Sea dispute with Beijing.

It comes after the latest clash between Philippine navy personnel and the Chinese coast guard at the start of the week.

The South China Sea, which is a conduit for over $3 trillion (€2.8 trillion) of annual shipborne commerce, is subject to conflicting territorial claims by Beijing and several Southeast Asian states.

What did Marcos say about the South China Sea dispute?

"In defending the nation, we stay true to our Filipino nature that we would like to settle all these issues peacefully," Marcos said while speaking to troops stationed in the South China Sea.

"We are not in the business to instigate wars," he said.

Marcos commended Philippine forces for "exercising the greatest restraint amidst intense provocation." He said that Manila would not yield to "any foreign power" but did not explicitly mention China.

"In the performance of our duties, we will not resort to the use of force or intimidation, or deliberately inflict injury or harm to anyone," Marcos said. "We stand firm. Our calm and peaceful disposition should not be mistaken for acquiescence."

China and the Philippines at odds over the South China Sea

What was the clash between the Philippine navy and the Chinese coast guard?

On Monday, Philippine ships were attacked by the Chinese coast guard as they attempted to deliver supplies to the contested Second Thomas Shoal in the Spratly Islands.

The Philippine military said that China's coast guard carried knives and spears and "deliberately punctured" Philippine boats. It said a Filipino sailor was severely injured in the clash.

China said that its measures were necessary to protect its territorial waters and that the Philippine ships had ignored warnings.

In response, the US reaffirmed its defense commitments under a mutual defense treaty with the Philippines.

However, Manila said on Friday that there was no reason to invoke the treaty as China's actions, while escalatory, did not constitute an "armed attack."

sdi/rm (Reuters, AP)