Manila is using a World War II-era ship, the BRP Sierra Madre, as a weapon to stake its claim in a territorial dispute with China in the South China Sea, and the Philippine military has announced that it would send another resupply mission to the ship.
The territorial conflict over the South China Sea, which China wants within its sphere of influence, was reignited earlier this month when China sought to obstruct a similar operation.
The resupply mission, said to AFP spokesperson Medel Aguilar, is Manila’s show of will to preserve the rule of law in the face of threats and pressure.
According to Bloomberg, Aguilar said, “We, therefore, call on all relevant parties to abide by their obligations under international law and respect the Philippines’ sovereignty, sovereign rights, and jurisdiction over its maritime zones.”
A war of words has broken out between Manila and Beijing after China requested the Philippines pull away the vessel and assaulted a Philippine resupply vessel with water cannons on August 5. This has revived the issue about who has authority over the South China Sea.
President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. of the Philippines has reiterated that he would not withdraw the ship that Manila stationed in Ayungin Shoal in 1999 as revenge for China’s 1995 occupation of Mischief Reef. China’s capital city of Beijing has also laid claim to the South China Sea islet, naming it Ren’ai Jiao.
THE MEANING OF “CAMP DAVID”
Philippines’ confidence may have been bolstered by a joint statement titled “The Spirit of Camp David” released last week after US Vice President Joe Biden met with Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida and South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol at Camp David.
The three heads of state have expressed their support for the 2016 judgement by an international tribunal in The Hague that invalidated China’s broad territorial claims in the South China Sea.
We are opposed to any efforts to alter the Indo-Pacific status quo that are made unilaterally. According to the statement, “the tribunal’s decision provides the legal basis for the parties to that proceeding to settle their maritime dispute amicably.”
South Korean President Yoon also urged all parties to respect international order, showing support for the Philippines without naming China. “Together, we’re going to stand up for international law, freedom of navigation, and the peaceful resolution of disputes in the South China Sea,” Biden said.