Revelations 6:3-4 “when he opened the second seal, I heard the second living creature say, “Come!” 4 And out came another horse, bright red. Its rider was permitted to take peace from the earth, so that people should slay one another, and he was given a great sword.
- Tense face-off: Philippines confronts China over sea claims
- The Philippine coast guard had invited a small group of journalists, including three from The Associated Press, to join the 1,670-kilometer (1,038-mile) patrol for the first time as part of a new Philippine strategy aimed at exposing China’s increasingly aggressive actions in the South China Sea, where an estimated $5 trillion in global trade transits each year.
- They cruised past a string of widely scattered Philippine-occupied and claimed islands, islets and reefs looking for signs of encroachment, illegal fishing and other threats.
- Hostilities peaked Sunday morning in the Philippine-occupied Second Thomas Shoal in the Spratly archipelago, the most fiercely contested region in the busy sea channel.
- As the two patrol vessels approached the shoal’s shallow turquoise waters for an underwater survey, the Chinese coast guard repeatedly warned them by radio to leave the area, which is about 194 kilometers (121 miles) west of the Philippine island province of Palawan.
- After several radio exchanges, a Chinese coast guard caller, sounding agitated, warned of unspecified adversarial action.
- “Since you have disregarded our warning, we will take further necessary measures on you in accordance with the laws and any consequences entailed will be borne by you,” the Chinese speaker said.
- A Chinese coast guard ship rapidly approached and shadowed the smaller Malapascua and the Malabrigo. When the Malapascua maneuvered toward the mouth of the shoal, the Chinese ship suddenly shifted to block it, coming as close as 36 to 46 meters (120 to 150 feet) from its bow, said Malapascua’s skipper, Capt. Rodel Hernandez.
- To avoid a collision, Hernandez abruptly reversed his vessel’s direction then shut off its engine to bring the boat to a full stop.
- Hernandez later told journalists that the “sudden and really very dangerous maneuver” by the Chinese coast guard ship had disregarded international rules on collision avoidance. He had the Philippine vessels leave the area after the encounter for the safety of the ships and personnel.
- Earlier, a huge Chinese navy ship shadowed the two Philippine patrol vessels in the dark of night as they cruised near Subi, one of seven barren reefs China has transformed in the last decade into a missile-protected island base. The Chinese navy ship radioed the Philippine vessels “to immediately leave and keep out.”
- The coast guard radioed back to assert Philippine sovereign rights to the area before steaming away.
- In another Philippine-claimed reef called Whitsun, the Philippine patrol vessels spotted more than 100 suspected Chinese militia ships arrayed side by side in several clusters in the shallows. China says the huge trawler-like ships are fishing vessels, but Manila’s coast guard suspects they are being used for surveillance or to hold the reef for future development.
- The territorial conflicts involving China, the Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia, Taiwan and Brunei have long been regarded as an Asian flashpoint and a delicate fault line in the rivalry between the United States and China in the region.
- While the U.S. lays no claims to the South China Sea, it has deployed its warships and fighter jets for patrols and military exercises with regional allies to uphold freedom of navigation and overflight, which it says is in America’s national interest.
- Washington has repeatedly warned that it would help defend the Philippines — its oldest treaty ally in Asia — if Philippine forces, ships or aircraft are attacked in the South China Sea.
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