Saturday , June 22 2024

Chinese vessels hit 2 boats in South China Sea: Philippines


MANILA: The Philippines has accused China’s coast guard of colliding with a Filipino supply boats in the South China Sea.

The Filipino vessel was on its way Sunday to a Philippine outpost in the Second Thomas Shoal, where tensions have escalated in recent weeks.

Manila said Beijing’s “dangerous blocking manoeuvres” endangered the safety of the Filipino crew.

However, China said the Philippines “deliberately stirred up trouble”.

Chinese and Philippine ships have routinely played cat-and-mouse around the shoal as a handful of Filipino troops on the outpost, a marooned and crumbling navy ship, require monthly rations but Filipino authorities say China has grown more aggressive since Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos Jr took office in June 2022 and sought closer military ties with Washington, Beijing’s chief rival for influence in the resource-rich and strategic sea.

In a second incident also near Second Thomas Shoal on Sunday, Filipino authorities said a Chinese militia vessel bumped into a Philippine coast guard ship.

A second supply ship was able to reach the Philippine outpost in the shoal, Manila said.

Beijing claims almost the entire South China Sea, including the Spratlys where the Second Thomas Shoal is located. Its claims to the sea overlap with claims by other countries, including the Philippines and Vietnam.

In 2016, an international arbitration court at The Hague ruled that China’s vast sea claims had no basis, acting on a case brought forth by Manila. Beijing has refused to recognize it.

A Chinese Coast Guard ship blocked a Philippine patrol vessel in the South China Sea, causing a near collision in waters where Beijing’s vast claims have alarmed the US and its allies.

The tense encounter near Second Thomas Shoal in the remote Spratly archipelago last Sunday, a move that Manila says is straight out of Beijing’s playbook. And it happened the day after Philippines’ President Ferdinand Marcos Jr met Chinese Foreign Minister Qin Gang in Manila, and expressed hope for open communication lines on the South China Sea dispute.

Throughout the 1,670km (1,038-mile) journey of two Philippine Coast Guard ships over six days, news cameras captured how on cue and in specific locations Chinese ships would shadow or tail the Filipinos, and send them radio warnings to leave or face “consequences”. The Philippine Coast Guard said it had invited journalists to join their routine patrol in the hotly-contested waters for the first time to witness China’s actions for themselves. (Int’l News Desk)

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