Thirty Filipino sailors were rescued in the South China Sea on Wednesday after being taken hostage by the Chinese navy for 25 days. The sailors had set out to look for sea crabs and sea cucumbers in June when they were seized by three Chinese vessels. Tensions had been brewing in the region since China’s territorial claims were challenged by the Philippines and its allies as sea lanes from the Paracel Islands to the Spratly Islands continued to be traversed.
Last month, after 70 Filipino fishermen were arrested in China’s waters, the Philippines accused China of violating international law by seizing the boats and arresting the fishermen. In a joint operation by Philippine navy personnel and officials from the Philippines coast guard, the captured sailors were safely returned to Manila on Tuesday. Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte reportedly described the Chinese attack as an act of “barbaric piracy” and instructed the Philippines armed forces to seek revenge.
Vietnam and China also faced off in July when Vietnam protested China’s placement of three oil exploration ships in disputed waters near the Paracel Islands. Meanwhile, Malaysia disputes China’s claims in the South China Sea and has been concerned about China’s plans to connect oilfields and ports through the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a trade deal co-led by the United States, a key ally of Malaysia.
Read the full story at NBC News.
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