Beijing’s Maritime Coercion

Presently, China claims the entire South China Sea as its territorial waters. This baseless claim was firmly rejected by the International Court in 2016. This has not stopped China, which cares nothing for international law and does not recognize the lawful territorial waters of regional states.

In addition to numerous documented cases of the Chinese Coast Guard ramming and blasting their Philippine counterparts with high-pressure water cannons (causing injury and destroying equipment), they have recently sent some of their largest naval vessels to intimidate the government of Manila.

According to USNI News, as recently as June 12, the Chinese Navy deployed one of its Type-075 amphibious assault ships to waters near Sabina Shoal, which is approximately 72 miles from the Philippine Island of Palawan. The Type-075 (which displaces approximately 36,000 tons) is capable of transporting up to 1,200 Marines, 60 amphibious armored vehicles and 28 helicopters. The message is clear, if Manila does not back-down, the Chinese military will use deadly force to dislodge the Philippine Marines from disputed areas.

Dramatic Escalation: China Now Threatens Manila with an Aircraft Carrier

Upping official intimidation and coercion form Beijing, and according to reports from the Deccan Herald, the Chinese Navy has now deployed one of its newest aircraft carriers within Philippine territorial waters. The vessel in question, the Shandong, was commissioned in 2019, can displace between 60,000 and 70,000 tons.

With a complement of 36 aircraft, the deployment of this vessel is not designed to threaten the Philippine Marines Stationed at the BRP Sierra Madre, the rusting naval vessel that Manila uses to maintain its maritime sovereignty at St. Thomas Shoal. The deployment of an aircraft carrier within Philippine territorial waters is intended as a direct threat to the Philippine home islands.

An aircraft carrier is the premier naval asset for power projection and a sign that China can and will use massive destructive force to push the government of Manila into line with Beijing’s illegal and fraudulent maritime claims. Therefore, this deployment signaled that China has the capability and willingness to ravage the critical infrastructure of the Philippine nation, should they decide to. China could launch attacks on their port and industrial infrastructure, military bases and civilian infrastructure, such as highways, power and waste treatment plants, hospitals, communication systems, government buildings and more.


China has not been dissuaded from its distinct and illegal maritime claims by the resolute and just actions of Philippine Marines, sailors, and Coast Guard personnel. Instead, under the rule of its dictator, Xi Jinping, Beijing has painted itself into a corner. They must continue to escalate and attempt to make Philippine President Marcos back down, possibly through the use of military force. If Beijing relents, it would be blow to its image as an emerging international power and the power of their dictator, in the face of resistance from a nation they feel is below them.