MANILA (Reuters) – The Philippines is contingency planning for an escalation of hostilities within the South China Sea, in accordance with a senior navy official, together with a state of affairs the place crew repel Chinese language forces trying to board Philippine vessels.

Ties between the 2 international locations have deteriorated this 12 months after a number of collisions and repeated standoffs close to disputed options of the South China Sea, with the Philippines accusing China of aggressive, deliberate and harmful manoeuvres.

The Philippines has taken a harder line with China this 12 months, coinciding with its boosting of navy ties with defence treaty ally america and elevated safety engagement with different Western powers.

“Count on extra coercive actions from China, in need of armed assault,” Alberto Carlos, chief of the Philippines’ Western Command informed CNN Philippines late on Wednesday.

“Subsequent after the water cannon might be ramming and in addition they’ll try and board our vessel, which is one thing that we are going to not permit them to do.”

That state of affairs, Carlos mentioned, was a part of Philippines struggle video games workouts and educational discussions on what different actions China would possibly take. The Philippines on Tuesday summoned China’s ambassador to protest “back-to-back harassments” on the weekend in numerous areas, together with collisions and use of water cannon.

Beijing has repeatedly accused Philippine vessels working in Manila’s unique financial zone (EEZ) of trespassing in Chinese language waters.

The Philippines has grown more and more cautious of China’s coastguard and the presence of lots of of Chinese language fishing boats that it considers to be militia forces.

“We’re brainstorming this, we’re wargaming this and we’re ready for any contingency that may occur,” mentioned Carlos, whose remit consists of defence of the Philippines’ EEZ.

China claims sovereignty over virtually the complete South China Sea, a conduit for greater than $3 trillion of annual ship-borne commerce. These claims, which an arbitral tribunal has declared baseless, lengthen to the unique financial zones of the Philippines, Vietnam, Indonesia, Malaysia and Brunei.

(Reporting by Neil Jerome Morales; Modifying by Martin Petty)

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