Philippines and China to resume South China Sea resupply

Image copyright Reuters Image caption China and the Philippines are locked in a standoff over a series of artificial islands in the South China Sea

The Philippines and China are to resume military resupply missions in the disputed South China Sea, officials say.

China severed this arrangement in 2017 amid a diplomatic standoff over rival claims to land and reefs in the South China Sea.

The new agreement, overseen by Malaysia, was originally suspended due to Malaysia’s objections to China’s militarisation of artificial islands.

The agreement could see resupply vessels from the Philippines or Brunei visit Mischief Reef, site of some of China’s recent actions.

The Philippines wants to restore the resupply arrangement “to reduce tensions” in the region, defence officials said.

Bilateral ties have been strained since last year, when Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte took a softer line on the dispute, reportedly weighing up a resumption of an air-sea battle against China.

But he decided against it, a move that irritated Beijing.

China has built an artificial island in Mischief Reef with airstrips and features for military use.

The US has encouraged the Philippines and other claimants to the South China Sea to bring the territorial disputes to an international tribunal.

The area, which includes parts of the Philippines, Vietnam, Taiwan, China and Malaysia, is estimated to hold some of the world’s largest untapped oil and gas reserves.

Mr Duterte has accused the US of trying to create trouble in the South China Sea for their own sake.

Leave a Comment