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China and the Philippines Navigate Tricky Mix of Warm Economic Ties and Icy Politics

Photos taken by the Philippines Coast Guard of a recent confrontation with the China Coast Guard in the South China Sea. Images via the Philippine Coast Guard.

While the dispute between China and the Philippines around territorial claims in the South China Sea keeps escalating, economic relations between the two are “business as usual.” However, the growing disagreement could cause economic complications for Manila.

The current fight centers around a WWII-era warship, the BRP Sierra Madre, currently grounded on the Second Thomas Shoal. The Philippines is using the ship as a de facto military base to project its claim in the region. Chinese coast guard vessels are accused of using a water cannon to disrupt a resupply mission to the wreck.

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