Truth, Inspiration, Hope.

Philippines Launches Second Joint Patrol with US, Beijing Retaliates With Military Exercise

Darren Maung
Darren is an aspiring writer who wishes to share or create stories to the world and bring humanity together as one. A massive Star Wars nerd and history buff, he finds enjoyable, heart-warming or interesting subjects in any written media.
Published: January 10, 2024
A Philippine civilian ship with supplies for Filipino fishermen and soldiers sailing across contested wars of the South China Sea. (Image: Ted Aljibe/AFP via Getty Images)

On Jan. 2, the Philippines and the U.S. launched a two-day joint patrol in the South China Sea — the second since November last year — after Manila’s assurance that the patrol was “not provocative.” In retaliation, Beijing initiated a military exercise shortly after.

The joint patrol on Jan. 2 came during a time of heightened tensions between the Philippines and China. 

Recently, Beijing sent naval vessels to harass Filipino forces sending supplies to a military outpost in the highly-contested Second Thomas (Ayungin) Shoal. In December, a civilian convoy with Christmas gifts was forced to retreat after being tailed by a Chinese ship.

As such, security engagements between the U.S. and the Philippines had grown to counter China’s aggressive movements, culminating in this second joint patrol; the first having taken place in November with military drills near Taiwan and in the West Philippine Sea — the term Manila uses for waters within its exclusive economic zone (EEZ).

The joint patrol last week, which also took place within the EEZ, featured four vessels from the Philippine navy — along with a multi-role helicopter and an anti-submarine helicopter — and four ships from the U.S. Indo-Pacific command, which consisted of an aircraft carrier, a cruiser and two destroyers.

According to Philippine armed forces chief Romeo Brawner, this patrol marked a “significant leap” in the U.S.-Philippine alliance and cooperation between their militaries.

“Our alliance is stronger than ever, sending a message to the world. We are advancing a rules-based international order and a free and open Indo-Pacific region in the face of regional challenges,” Brawner said.


‘Not provocative’

Naturally, Beijing’s response was fierce. On Jan. 4, Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin called the patrols “irresponsible,” adding that they were “detrimental to management and control of the maritime situation and related disputes.”

He also said that other countries should respect “efforts of countries in the region to maintain peace and stability in the South China Sea.”

In response to a claim from China that the patrols were “provocative,” Manila defended them by saying that the maneuvers were within its own seas and complied with international law, Radio Free Asia (RFA) wrote.

However, the Philippines is still willing to have “diplomatic discussions” with China, Filipino National Security Adviser Eduardo Ano said after the patrol was done.

In a statement, Ano said, “We wish to clarify that the joint maritime activities between the Philippines and the United States were clearly conducted within our [EEZ] and are consistent with international law, particularly the United Nations Convention in the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), so how can they be deemed provocative?”

“Our joint patrols with the United States and potential future activities with other allied countries shows our mutual commitment to a rules-based international order and for promoting peace and stability of the region,” he added.

Ano also said that Manila intends to continue “fostering good relations with all nations,” working to find a resolution “through peaceful dialogue and adherence to international law.”

Maritime security expert Ray Powell told BenarNews on Jan. 4 that the joint patrols “send the message” that Manila will not be alone, but must also be seen as part of “a network of military allies and partners.”

Beijing’s military exercises

Shortly after the U.S.-Philippine patrols, China launched a military exercise in the South China Sea on Jan. 4. The People’s Liberation Army (PLA) Southern Theatre Command declared that they were performing a “routine” exercise, though no details were given concerning the location or the scale of the drill, SCMP reported.

This also came after the Philippine Navy reported two PLA Navy vessels — a Type 052D guided-missile destroyer and a Type 054A frigate — were “shadowing” the joint patrol from afar, having failed to comply with five warning messages, Philippine media reports said.

The Southern Theatre Command wrote on their social media accounts that the PLA controlled “any military activities that disrupt and create hotspots in the South China Sea,” vowing to “remain on high alert” to protect their interests and maritime rights.