Metro Manila, Philippines — President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. said the Philippines needs a “paradigm shift” in how it deals with China’s aggressions in the West Philippine Sea as current diplomatic efforts with Beijing are going “in a poor direction.

According to the Presidential Communications Office (PCO), Marcos told Japanese media over the weekend that China’s continued disregard of the Philippines’ “traditional” diplomatic methods calls for a new approach.

“Well, to this point, we have resorted to the traditional methods of diplomacy where, should there be an incident, we send note verbal. Our embassy will send a démarche to the Foreign Affairs (Ministry) office in Beijing, but we have been doing this for many years now, with very little progress,” Marcos said.

“We have to do something [that] we have not done before. We have to come up with a new concept, a new principle, a new idea,” he stressed. “Paradigm shift is something that we have to formulate.”

On Dec. 10, a commissioned Philippine vessel on a resupply mission to Ayungin Shoal sustained “serious engine damage” after the China Coast Guard (CCG) blasted it with a water cannon. It was the latest in a string of tensions between Manila and Beijing, which the Armed Forces of the Philippines deemed “short of armed attacks.”

The incident led to the Philippines summoning Chinese Ambassador Huang Xilian and filing yet another diplomatic protest.

At least three instances of the CCG’s water cannon blasting against Filipino boats were logged in August and November. In February, a Chinese military-grade laser was pointed at a Philippine ship. All incidents prompted Manila to lodge diplomatic protests against Beijing.

The national government has vowed to continue exploring “all forms of diplomatic actions available” to protect and uphold the country’s legal maritime rights. In 2016, an arbitral tribunal constituted under the United Nations’ Convention of the Law of the Sea nullified Beijing’s sweeping claims over the South China Sea, which overlapped with the West Philippine Sea.

The president reiterated he hopes to avoid situations that could lead to “an actual violent conflict” as a result of a mistake or misunderstanding. He also sought the help of the international community in developing a new approach to the WPS issue.

“In my review, it’s time that the countries that feel that they have an involvement in this situation, we have to come up with a paradigm shift,” said Marcos, who earlier noted that the “more assertive” China is posing a “real challenge” to Asian neighbors.

The president has just returned from Tokyo after attending the Commemorative Summit for the 50th Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN)-Japan Friendship and Cooperation.

Aside from the Philippines, ASEAN members Vietnam, Malaysia, and Brunei have overlapping claims with China in parts of the South China Sea.

The Chinese Embassy in Manila has yet to issue a statement on the matter.