Philippine's President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. (C) leaves after attending the East Asia Summit of the 43rd Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Summit in Jakarta, Indonesia, 07 September 2023. EFE/EPA/ACHMAD IBRAHIM/POOL

Philippine president calls on Southeast Asian nations to oppose Chinese military vessels

Jakarta, Sep 7 (EFE).- Philippine president Ferdinand Marcos Jr on Thursday urged the other leaders of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations to oppose Beijing’s “dangerous” use of military vessels in the South China Sea.

(L-R) Philippines' President Ferdinand Marcos Jr., Singapore's Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, Thailand's Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Sarun Charoensuwan, Vietnam's Prime Minister Pham Minh Chinh, UN Secretary General Antonio Gutterres, Indonesia's President Joko Widodo, Laos' Prime Minister Sonexay Siphandone, Brunei's Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah, Cambodia's Prime Minister Hun Manet, Malaysia's Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim and East Timor's Prime Minister Xanana Gusmao pose for a family photo prior to the ASEAN-UN Summit as part of the 43rd Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Summit in Jakarta, Indonesia, 07 September 2023. EFE/EPA/TATAN SYUFLANA/POOL

Marcos was addressing a three-day ASEAN leader summit in Jakarta, which concluded Thursday.

Senior delegations from China and the United States – represented by premier Li Qiang and vice president Kamala Harris, respectively –, as well as Japan and South Korea, were also present at the gathering in the Indonesian capital.

“The Philippines fully supports adherence to international law and the rules-based order. We must oppose the dangerous use of coast guard and maritime militia vessels in the South China Sea,” Marcos said, in a veiled reference to Beijing.

“We are concerned over illegal, unreported, and unregulated fishing, and the militarization of reclaimed features in the South China Sea,” he added, without explicitly identifying China.

On Aug. 5, Chinese coastguards blocked and fired water cannons at Philippine coastal surveillance vessels in an area of the South China Sea that is claimed by both nations.

In addition to other minor incidents, the most serious occurred in February, when the Philippine Coast Guard claimed that a Chinese ship used a blinding laser, “probably for military use,” against its crew members.

Marcos’ speech comes just three days after US and Philippine Navy ships sailed together for the first time in waters off the Philippine west coast, an area that Beijing claims.

China and the Philippines are in a dispute over the sovereignty of several islands and atolls in the South China Sea, which Beijing considers almost entirely its own for “historical reasons”. China also has territorial disputes with Malaysia, Vietnam, Taiwan and Brunei.

Tensions between the two countries have spiked in recent months as Marcos Jr. strengthens his defense alliance with the US, reversing the rapprochement with Beijing promoted by his predecessor, Rodrigo Duterte. EFE