South China Sea: War fears as Philippines threatens gunfire in escalating row with Beijing

South China Sea: Lorenzana on 'developing' relationships

Manila is furious at Chinese threats to shoot at any foreign vessels entering its territories in the South China Sea. Last month Beijing passed the Coast Guard Law, also known as the “open fire” law. Under its terms, navy and coast guard are ordered to take all necessary measures “including the use of weapons” to defend its sovereignty in the disputed waters.

This provoked an angry response from the Philippines Government, which has vowed to shoot back, raising the prospect of an all-out war.

Philippines Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr told local media: “So far there has been no incident.

“If there is an incident, I can assure you there will be more than just a protest.”

His comments come after issuing a formal diplomatic protest against what he called a “verbal threat of war”.

China’s embassy in Manila defended the new law, insisting that it conforms to international conventions.

In a statement, it said: “Many countries have enacted similar legislation.

“The Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) Law of 2009 established the PCG as an armed and uniformed service.

“None of these laws has been seen as a threat of war.”

China has provoked tensions with its regional neighbours and the US over its claims of sovereignty in the South China Sea.

The People’s Republic says that the entire waterway up to the coasts of the Philippines, Malaysia and Taiwan belongs to it.

Beijing’s claim is based on the U-shaped nine-dash line etched onto a map in the 1940s by a Chinese geographer.

In 2016, an international court of arbitration dismissed China’s territorial claims.

The US navy along with its allies often carries out “freedom of navigation” patrols in the region, which Beijing views as highly provocative.


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