China Backs Down in South China Sea After U.S., Philippines Warnings

USS Makin Island and the aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt transit the South China Sea on April 9, 2021 / US Navy Photo

Chinese vessels have backed down from a Philippine-occupied atoll in the South China Sea after imposing a quasi-blockade that provoked strong warnings from Manila and Washington.

Philippine Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana told reporters on Sunday that “the Chinese will not interfere per my conversation with the Chinese ambassador.” He was referring to Beijing’s envoy in Manila, Huang Xilian, who received a formal diplomatic protest from the Philippine government last week.

Lorenzana said he and Huang had been in communication since November 16, when three white hull China Coast Guard ships prevented two wooden supply boats from delivering food and other provisions to Philippine troops stationed on Second Thomas Shoal—part of the disputed Spratly Islands archipelago. Philippine leaders said China’s ships used water cannons in the clash.

The defense chief said the boats would return at an unspecified time this week, without additional naval or coast guard escorts. “We will see if they are true to their word as our Navy will proceed with the resupply this week,” Lorenzana said, according to a report by the Philippine Daily Inquirer on Monday.

Read more at Newsweek 

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