The Philippines has accused the Chinese coast guard of attacking its supply vessels in the South China Sea. A large Chinese patrol ship was supposed to block their way and attack them with water cannons. The Philippines stressed that China’s action was “wanton” and “unlawful” and released a video of the incident.
On Sunday, the Armed Forces of the Philippines reported an incident that took place the day before in the eastern part of the disputed South China Sea, in the Spratly Islands archipelago. According to the communiqué, a large patrol vessel of the Chinese coast guard attacked the vessels of the Philippine coast guard there. The Chinese approached one of them to a dangerously short distance, began to block it by swimming in front of it, and also attacked with powerful water cannons.
The attacked ship was one of two escorts of supply vessels for Filipino soldiers stationed at the Second Thomas Shoal reef post. As a result of the attack, one of these units had to turn back and failed to deliver supplies. The Philippine outpost on the Second Thomas Shore is the hull of an old, rusty World War II amphibious assault ship deliberately stranded. A group of Filipino soldiers has been permanently stationed at this makeshift post since 1999. There was also supposed to be a routine rotation of his crew during the Saturday mission.
“Illegal” actions by China
The Philippine military released a video of the incident and said China’s action was “a wanton disregard for the safety of the people on board and a violation of international law.” She thus referred to the judgment of the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague from 2016, which found that Beijing’s claims to almost the entire area of the South China Sea are unfounded. China does not comply with this ruling.
The Philippine statement also called on the Chinese Coast Guard “to contain its forces, respect the sovereign rights of the Philippines in its exclusive economic zone and continental shelf, refrain from obstructing freedom of navigation, and take steps against those involved in this unlawful incident.” “We call on the Chinese Coast Guard and the Central Military Commission to act with prudence and responsibility in their actions to prevent miscalculations and accidents that endanger people’s lives,” it said.
China wants to remove the Philippine post
The Chinese coast guard responded to the incident on Monday. She said Beijing had warned Manila against sending its units to the Second Thomas Shoal and delivering “building materials used for large-scale repairs and reinforcements” to the post there. It was also found that China allowed the transport of everyday items for the ship’s crew, including food, and water cannons were used to avoid collisions. The Chinese added that they expected the Philippines to remove its outpost from the Second Thomas Shoal.
Dispute in the South China Sea
China is gradually but steadily expanding its sphere of influence in the South China Sea. They treat the water body as their property. It is a sea through which the most important transport routes in the world run, and under the surface of which energy resources are to be found in huge quantities
The Chinese authorities claim 90 percent of this strategically located and resource-rich body of water. Their territorial claims also apply to areas that, in the light of applicable international law, belong to neighboring states – Vietnam, Philippines, Malaysia and Brunei. It also makes its own claims to the South China Sea Taiwan.
Main photo source: Facebook/Philippine Coast Guard