In a recent incident in the South China Sea, the Philippines has labeled China as an “aggressor,” alleging that China’s actions have escalated tensions in the region and resulted in a collision that damaged a Philippine resupply boat.
Collision in the South China Sea
On Sunday, a Chinese coast guard ship collided with one of Manila‘s smaller wooden resupply boats near Second Thomas Shoal. Thankfully, no injuries were reported, but the incident has garnered international condemnation and raised concerns in the United States.
Philippines Points Finger at China
In response to the collision, the Philippine foreign ministry spokeswoman, Teresita Daza, stated during a joint news conference on Monday that incidents like this demonstrate that the Philippines is not the aggressor in the South China Sea dispute; instead, China bears the responsibility for escalating tensions.
China’s Version of Events
China’s coast guard, on the other hand, described the collision as a “slight collision” and asserted that they were lawfully blocking the Philippine boat from transporting “illegal construction materials.”
This incident is not an isolated one. Previously, China’s coastguard, with support from its maritime militia boats, had interfered with the Philippines’ resupply missions. On August 5, a Chinese coastguard ship used a water cannon against a resupply boat.
Resupply Missions and Sovereignty Claims
The regular resupply missions in question are meant to support Philippine troops stationed aboard the BRP Sierra Madre, a former warship that Manila grounded on the Second Thomas Shoal in 1999 to assert its sovereignty claims. This shoal is known as Ayungin in Manila and Renai Reef in China, and it falls within the Philippines’ 370-kilometer exclusive economic zone.
Philippine President’s Response
In light of the incident, Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. convened a security meeting on Monday to discuss what his office described as “the latest violation by China.” He has also ordered his country’s coast guard to conduct an investigation into the collision. The Philippine government is treating the situation with utmost seriousness at the highest level.
This collision highlights the ongoing tensions in the South China Sea, where territorial disputes involving China, the Philippines, and other neighboring countries continue to pose challenges to regional stability.