In a last-ditch effort to turn down the heat, the Philippines and China have come to a tentative agreement to cool off the simmering tensions in the all-too-critical South China Sea, according to officials on Tuesday, July 2.

This comes on the heels of last month’s violent showdown where Chinese Coast Guard goons – axes and knives in hand – stormed Philippine supply ships.

The brawl on June 17, as described by Philippine Navy Rear Admiral Roy Vincent Trinidad, was a real barn burner – the “most aggressive” in recent history, with one Filipino soldier ending up with a finger in the wind and the rest of us on edge about just how hot this powder keg might get.

The Second Thomas Shoal, a submerged reef both sides claim as their own, has turned into ground zero for this maritime knife fight.

South China Sea Tensions: A Fragile Path Forward

Despite both camps admitting the gap between the Philippines and China is wider than the Grand Canyon, the sit-down on Tuesday with both parties could be the start of dialing it back.