Ahead of an international court ruling on disputed areas in the South China Sea, Chinese state-run media warned the Philippines against escalating tensions, claiming that Beijing won’t “step back” in the ongoing standoff.
On July 12, the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea is scheduled to issue a final decree in a trial initiated by the Philippines against China.
The lawsuit hinges on a “nine-dash line” that Beijing has used to define its territories in the region since the middle of the 20th century. Manila has denounced the claims as having neither historical nor legal grounds, turning to the Hague in 2013 for arbitration.
Another state-run Chinese paper, Global Times, went further, stating that Beijing "will fight back" if tensions in the South China Sea keep escalating.
"If the US and the Philippines act on impulse and carry out flagrant provocation, China will not take a single step back," the report reads, specifying that Beijing could make “a military outpost" out of Scarborough Shoal in the South China Sea and "sink" Philippine military vessels deployed in the region
Stoltenberg said that Russia's hostile actions in Ukraine have spurred the alliance to raise its defenses on the eastern flank. Stoltenberg spoke to reporters before the NATO summit opened in Warsaw on Friday to approve, among others, the presence of four battalions in Poland and the Baltic states.
NATO’s massive build-up in the three Baltic countries and Poland is officially labeled “assurance measures,” but not everyone in the alliance is keen to take part in what the Foreign Minister of Europe's most important NATO member, Frank-Walter Steinmeier, called three weeks ago “saber-rattling and warmongering.”
“Whoever believes that a symbolic tank parade on the alliance's eastern border will bring security is mistaken,” Steinmeier said in defiance of multiple war games in the region. A recent YouGov poll found that 64 percent of Germans agreed with his statement, with only 16 percent rejecting it.
The Kremlin has hit back at a decision by NATO to station several thousand troops in Baltic countries and Eastern Europe, amid rising tensions between Europe and Russia, as "anti-Russian hysteria."
At a NATO summit in Warsaw, Poland on Friday, the military alliance is expected to formally agree to deploy four battalions with a total of 3,000 to 4,000 troops to the Baltic states (Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania) and Poland on a rotational basis.
The deployment comes amid increasing concerns in those areas (all of which were under Soviet control during the Cold War) that Russia could be prepared to try to increase or regain its sphere of influence .
In a statement on Thursday, NATO also said it would "strengthen political and practical cooperation with Ukraine, Georgia and the Republic of Moldova" - all former Soviet republics experiencing increasing tensions with Russia due to their political and economic relations with the EU.
In addition, the EU and NATO signed a declaration on Friday aimed at bolstering the region's security ahead of the full NATO summit Friday afternoon.
Left out in the cold from NATO and ostensibly the reason for such a deployment, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov reportedly hit back at the alliance, saying its actions were akin to "anti-Russian hysteria."