Philippines says China’s ‘coercive, aggressive’ actions discussed with top U.S. security adviser By Reuters

By Karen Lema and Mikhail Flores

MANILA (Reuters) – The Philippines on Tuesday said its national security adviser and US counterpart held “coercive, aggressive and treacherous” talks with Beijing in the South China Sea, as a diplomatic row between the two Asian neighbors escalates.

Philippine National Security Adviser Eduardo Ano “highly commended the United States for continuing to confirm and reaffirm its commitment” to the alliance, the National Security Council of the Philippines said in a statement.

Monday’s phone call came on the heels of sea voyages and tense talks between China and the Philippines that have raised concerns about rising seas.

President Ferdinand Marcos Jr said last week there would be “measures to deal” with Chinese coast guard violence, as Beijing accused the Philippines of fraud and reneging on a promise to remove an old submarine that was deliberately grounded in the disputed region. Manila refuses to make that promise.

Philippine Defense Secretary Gilberto Teodoro told Filipinos in an open letter on Tuesday not to “fall into the trap created by China’s propaganda”.

China claims almost the entire South China Sea as its territory, controlled by naval vessels, about 1,000 kilometers from its mainland. China has kept its responses moderate in the face of the Philippines’ intervention.

The row comes at a time when the Philippines and the United States are deepening military ties, angering China, which sees Washington interfering behind its back.

The Philippines has insisted it has not agreed to withdraw the BRP (NASDAQ: ) Sierra Madre, which has been under military control since it was founded at Second Thomas Shoal 25 years ago. China has been accused of blocking the redeployment of the soldiers.

The former spokesman of Rodrigo Duterte, the former president, has confirmed that there was a “compassionate agreement” with China to maintain the status quo on the stake, but not to pull the ship.

NSC spokesperson Jonathan Malaya said the Marcos government has not seen any document to support China’s promise to the Philippines to remove the ship.

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