BEIJING (Agencies): The Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) conducted a routine patrol in the South China Sea to safeguard national sovereign security and maritime rights. This move comes amid a concurrent US-Philippines joint patrol and Manila’s attempts to permanently occupy Chinese reefs in the region. The PLA’s operation serves as a deterrence, drawing a red line to reduce the risk of misjudgment and accidents.
The PLA Southern Theater Command organized naval and air forces for the patrol, stating, “Any military activities that upset the situation or create tension in the South China Sea are completely under control.” The US-Philippines joint patrol involved four vessels from each navy, including an aircraft carrier and destroyers.
China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs urged relevant countries to stop irresponsible moves, emphasizing the need to respect regional efforts for peace. The PLA’s patrol is seen as a response to provocations by the Philippines and the US. Analysts suggest that China’s determination to safeguard its sovereignty is growing, and the operation serves as a clear message about its red line and capabilities. Additionally, the PLA conducted a live-fire air-to-air missile attack exercise over the South China Sea, showcasing its capabilities for air superiority.
The Philippines has been provoking China with attempts to reinforce a grounded warship near Ren’ai Reef, using the guise of humanitarian resupplies. The restrained response by China Coast Guard vessels has blocked these attempts. US criticism of China’s actions was dismissed, with China stating that the US incited provocations for its interests. Predictions suggest that tensions may persist in 2024, and China could enhance military and law enforcement measures to maintain stability in the South China Sea.