Philippine Business Groups Release Rare Statement Amid South China Sea Tensions

By Jace Dela Cruz

Jun 21, 2024 11:35 PM EDT

A China Coast Guard ship monitors Philippine fishermen aboard their wooden boats during the distribution of fuel and food to fishers by the civilian-led mission Atin Ito (This Is Ours) Coalition, in the disputed South China Sea on May 16, 2024
(Photo : TED ALJIBE/AFP via Getty Images)

Philippine business groups condemned the recent harassment faced by the country's military following a clash between navy personnel and the Chinese coast guard in the South China Sea, according to a report by Reuters.

Philippine Business Groups Condemns China's 'Harassment'

In a rare joint statement, 17 business organizations, including the Makati Business Club and the Management Association of the Philippines, called for unity and a peaceful resolution that respects the nation's rights.

The business groups did not explicitly name China but urged the government to modernize the military and coastguard urgently, emphasizing the need for a self-reliant defense force. 

They expressed concern about the ongoing harassment that the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG), the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), and civilians trying to make a living in the disputed waters endure.

READ NEXT: Duterte-China West PH Sea Sale Agreement Speculations Spread Due to Increasing Chinese Students in Cagayan 

China's 'Illegal' and 'Aggressive' Actions in South China Sea

The Philippine foreign ministry has labeled China's actions during a routine resupply mission to a contested atoll as "illegal" and "aggressive." The incident injured a navy sailor and damaged several vessels. China's foreign ministry, however, claimed that their actions were lawful, professional, and justified.

The Second Thomas Shoal, located within the Philippines' exclusive economic zone, and the resource-rich Scarborough Shoal are central to these disputes.

Despite a 2016 Permanent Court of Arbitration ruling rejecting China's extensive claims in the South China Sea, Beijing continues to assert its control, causing tension with neighboring countries. 

READ MORE: Philippines Could Receive $1 Billion From US Firms! Where Will Investments Be Used For? 

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