Philippines’ Coast Guard and Supply Boat Hit by Chinese Vessels Near Disputed South China Sea Shoal

Chinese Coast Guard and Militia Vessels Clash with Philippine Ships in Disputed South China Sea

Earlier on October 4, 2023, a Chinese coast guard ship (left) with a Chinese militia vessel (right) blocks Philippine coast guard ship, BRP Sindangan, as it tried to head towards Second Thomas Shoal at the disputed South China Sea during rotation and resupply mission. File
| Photo Credit: AP

In a recent incident that further fuels tensions in the already disputed South China Sea, a Chinese coast guard ship and one of its militia vessels clashed with a Philippine coast guard ship and a military-run supply boat. The collision occurred near a disputed shoal and Philippine officials have yet to report injuries or damage caused by the altercation.

Violation of Sovereignty

The Philippine government denounced the incident in the strongest terms, considering it a direct violation of Manila’s sovereignty. According to Philippine officials, the dangerous and illegal actions carried out by the Chinese Coast Guard on Sunday morning clearly breached Philippine sovereignty, sovereign rights, and jurisdiction. The Philippine task force on the South China Sea released a statement condemning the collision.

Supply Mission Hindered

The collision took place near Second Thomas Shoal, as two Philippine supply boats, escorted by two Philippine coast guard ships, were en route to deliver much-needed supplies to the atoll. These deliveries are crucial due to the ongoing Chinese blockade that has persisted for years. Near-collisions have become a recurring issue as Philippine vessels regularly transport supplies to the Filipino marines and sailors stationed in the disputed area. However, this marks the first time that Philippine officials have reported their vessels being struck by Chinese ships.

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Fiercely Contested Territory

The Second Thomas Shoal is one of the most fiercely contested areas in the bustling South China Sea. It serves as the backdrop for overlapping territorial claims by various countries, including China, the Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia, Taiwan, and Brunei, spanning decades. The presence of multiple claimants has often led to strained relations and occasional confrontations in the region.

(With inputs from Reuters)

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