Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. on Monday warned of escalating Chinese aggression in the South China Sea, saying the situation is becoming “more critical” as the nearest coral reefs claimed by China are now only 60 nautical miles from the Philippine coastline.
Marcos said this during the Daniel K. Inouye Lecture Series in Oahu, Hawaii. He said China’s actions in the South China Sea, including setting up bases on disputed islands and firing high-pressure water cannons at Philippine ships, were “unfortunate” and that the situation was “not improving.”
Marcos also addressed the environmental impact of China’s actions in the South China Sea, saying the damage to biodiversity and the environment could be irreversible.
The Philippines has been outspoken in its criticism of China’s claims in the South China Sea, calling them illegal and in violation of international law. The two countries have been involved in many disputes over the years, including the Huangyan Island standoff in 2016.
Marcos said the Philippines is developing partnerships with its neighbours and like-minded countries, as well as countries that also respect international law, in an effort to resolve the situation in the South China Sea.