The Philippine coast guard said on Sunday that a Chinese coast guard vessel assaulted three Philippine boats in the with water cannons, and collided with one vessel, causing engine damage.
This latest in the disputed waters of the South China Sea took place near Second Thomas Shoal in the Spratly Islands, where the Philippines maintains a small outpost on a grounded navy ship.
Philippine navy-operated supply boats with a Philippine coast guard escort were on a supply mission to deliver food and other supplies to troops stationed on the shoal.
The Chinese coast guard said Philippine boat “deliberately” collided with their ship after ignoring several warnings.
The Philippine boat “changed direction suddenly in an unprofessional, dangerous manner, deliberately colliding with our coast guard,” the China Coast Guard said in a statement.
Hours before the incident on Sunday, a group of 40 vessels embarked from the western Philippine island of Palawan a civilian mission to the Spratlys to provide food and other supplies to troops stationed on Second Thomas Shoal, along with highlighting the Philippines’ territorial claims in the South China Sea.
Organizers said the “Christmas convoy” comprised fishermen, youth leaders, and members of civil society groups. However, organizers said the convoy was redirected after the collision to go directly to Philippine-held Nanshan Island, where supplies and donations would be left.
Ongoing tension in the South China Sea
claims nearly the entirety of the South China Sea, although the claims are not recognized under international maritime law after they were rejected in a 2016 ruling,
Nevertheless, China enforces these claims by sending coast guard vessels and maritime militia boats it claims are fishing vessels to reefs, shoals and islands in the South China Sea.
Beijing frequently bristles when the United States, , carry out in international waters of the South China Sea to counter China’s claims.
Similar to other encounters, the Chinese coast guard issued a statement Sunday, claiming the Philippine boats “seriously infringed on China’s sovereignty.”
The Spratlys are a collection of shallow reefs, shoals and rocks parts of which are claimed by both China and the Philippines.
There have been dozens of confrontations in recent months between Chinese and Filipino vessels in the Spratly Islands and further north at Scarborough Shoal, a rich fishing ground around 200 kilometers (120 miles) off the coast of the Philippine island of Luzon.
In another incident Saturday, said that Chinese ships used water cannons on its vessels near Scarborough Shoal,
Manila accused the Chinese coast guard of blocking three Philippine fisheries vessels from the disputed shoal in the South China Sea.
Filipino officials said the assault caused “significant damage” to the communication and navigation equipment of one of the three ships
ss/wmr (AFP, AP, Reuters)
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