Marcos: "Filipinos Do Not Yield" to China Coast Guard's Aggression

China Coast Guard cutters disabled a wooden supply vessel with water cannon and injured three crewmembers last weekend (PCG)

Published Mar 28, 2024 10:34 PM by The Maritime Executive

After the China Coast Guard injured three Philippine crewmembers with water cannons at Second Thomas Shoal last weekend, Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. said that Manila would respond with new countermeasures.

"We seek no conflict with any nation, more so nations that purport and claim to be our friends but we will not be cowed into silence, submission, or subservience," he said. "Filipinos do not yield."

In a statement Thursday, Marcos promised a "response and countermeasure package that is proportionate, deliberate, and reasonable" in response to the aggressive actions of the China Coast Guard within the Philippine exclusive economic zone. The CCG and its paramilitary support fleet of trawlers, the Chinese maritime militia, routinely try to block Philippine resupply missions to Second Thomas Shoal, with increasingly dangerous methods. The encounters have happened for years, but China's tactics have recently escalated to include laser targeting, shouldering and water-cannoning. Multiple Philippine personnel have been injured in recent standoffs.

“The world has seen and knows that the Filipino people are not aggressors. We will never seek a fight or trouble. Neither will we be cowed into silence, submission, or subservience,” the Philippine defense department said in a parallel statement.

Second Thomas Shoal is within the Philippine EEZ, but China claims possession of the reef under its sweeping "nine-dash line" policy, which covers the vast majority of the South China Sea. The shoal is about 700 nautical miles away from the Chinese mainland. China's claims were invalidated by the Permanent Court of Arbitration in the Hague in 2016, but China has ignored the ruling. 

Marcos said that he has been in contact with foreign partners to discuss requirements for assistance. The Philippines has a mutual defense treaty with the United States, and is America's oldest treaty partner in Asia. "I have given [our allies] our requirements and we have been assured that they will be addressed," he said. 

In response, China's defense ministry said that the Philippines' resistance is futile. 

"The Philippine side should realize that provocations will only do itself more harm than good, and soliciting foreign support will lead nowhere," Defense Ministry spokesperson Wu Qian said. "China will not allow the Philippines to act willfully."