The Philippines says China’s coast guard caused “intentional” collision 

October 23, 2023

Authorities in the Philippines on Monday accused some of China’s coast guard vessels of “intentionally” colliding with its vessels in the South China Sea. 

The incident occurred on Sunday. The Armed Forces of the Philippines released videos, which can be seen here, showing the stern of one vessel bumping the deck of another and several close calls.

Confrontations between Manila and Beijing over submerged shoals in the South China Sea have been going on for decades, though in recent months the squabbles have been caught by Filipino camera crews. Sunday’s incident was the second time in several weeks that Filipino journalists have recorded a close encounter near a particularly sensitive reef called by various names: Second Thomas Shoal, Ayungin Shoal or Ren Ai Reef.

On Monday, China’s embassy in Manila accused Filipino vessels of “trespassing,” while officials from the Philippine national security council, coast guard, Foreign Ministry, Defense Ministry and armed forces condemned the actions of the Chinese coast guard.

The United States formally expressed concern while siding with the Philippines, referring to what the State Department called repeated “harassment” by China in the South China Sea amid “dangerous” and “unlawful” acts.

Back in February, the U.S. had renewed a vow to defend the Philippines should its forces come under attack in the disputed South China Sea, expanding U.S. military presence in the former American colony—a reversal of a more-than 30-year-old troop withdrawal. 

Philippines Defense Secretary Gilberto Teodoro said during a news conference that the country’s Foreign Ministry had called on Chinese Ambassador Huang Xilian to “condemn the reckless and illegal act of the Chinese government.”

China on Sunday described the actions taken by its coast guard vessels as “professional and restrained” and said the Philippine vessels had “intruded in the waters” of the Ren Ai.

Teodoro countered that China had “no jurisdiction or authority” to conduct operations in a Philippines-exclusive economic zone.

In 2016 the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague determined that Beijing’s sweeping claim to the South China Sea was groundless, but China does not accept any claim or action based on the ruling.

PHOTO: Armed Forces of the Philippines

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