After meeting with Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. on Monday (November 21), US Vice President Kamala Harris remarked, “The relationship between the United States and the Philippines is long and enduring, and American commitment is steadfast.”
Marcos added after the meeting that the two countries’ ties were still strong and vital. The Philippine military said that the Chinese Coast Guard ship “forcefully collected” what was believed to be rocket debris being carried by a Philippine Navy boat on Sunday in contested seas in the South China Sea.
Palawan is the most strategically significant island in the contested South China Sea
On Tuesday, Harris will travel to Palawan, the Philippines’ southernmost and most strategically significant island in the contested South China Sea.
“informed of the event and awaiting the complete information from maritime law enforcement officials,” the Philippine foreign ministry said.
The South China Sea is a vital trade route worth trillions of dollars annually, and China claims most of it for itself. There are competing claims from Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines, Taiwan, and Vietnam.
Near Subi Reef, one of seven artificial islands in the Spratlys on which China has put surface-to-air missiles and other armaments is Thitu, known to Filipinos as Pag-Asa (Hope).