Manila's Civilian Response to Beijing's Threats – Editorial

Manila's Civilian Response to Beijing's Threats – Editorial


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While the confrontation between the two countries intensifies for control of an area rich in oil, natural gas and fish, about 200 Filipino civilians are earning a living on this island dependent on the army and under constant pressure from Beijing’s boats.

Half an hour after take-off, the door of the modest twin-engined Philippine Air Force plane suddenly opened. Two tightly bound soldiers take their camera lens out of the cabin. Below, several rows of imposing Chinese ships crisscross the area surrounding the Second Thomas Sandbar. This is where the Philippine Navy, in 1999, intentionally disabled a BRP ship sierra madre, To make it an advanced base for the country in the Spratly Islands, an archipelago disputed by most countries in the region. Within the Philippine Economic Zone and more than a thousand kilometers from China's Hainan Island, this strip of sand is at the heart of tensions between Beijing and Manila. Each mission to resupply the ship, inhabited by a group of soldiers, results in a skirmish. The most recent incident, in early March, left four people injured after water cannon fires and aggressive maneuvers by the Chinese fleet, according to the Philippine Coast Guard.

“In 1999, there were only six civilians.”

Despite its limited resources, the Philippines seeks to define its territory. Elected in 2022, Pr

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