Friday, June 14, 2024
Friday, June 14, 2024
Home » Philippines and China Accuse Each Other of ‘Dangerous’ Incidents Involving Several Vessels in South China Sea

Philippines and China Accuse Each Other of ‘Dangerous’ Incidents Involving Several Vessels in South China Sea

by Pridoni Jaqeli
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The Philippines and China on Sunday accused each other of dangerous maneuvers and causing a collision in contested waters in the South China Sea, the latest in a string of maritime confrontations between the two countries that have heightened regional tensions.

In a statement shared on X, spokesperson for the National Task Force for the West Philippine Sea (NTF-WPS) Jay Tarriela said that Chinese Coast Guard and maritime militia vessels had “harassed, blocked and executed dangerous maneuvers on Philippine civilian supply vessels – in another attempt to illegally impede or obstruct a routine resupply and rotation mission” to the Second Thomas Shoal.

The Philippine Coast Guard said at least two of its vessels had been damaged as a result of being fired on by water cannon.

However, the Chinese Coast Guard said Philippine ships had “illegally intruded” in its waters and it was taking “control measures against the Philippine vessels in accordance with the law.”

It said a Philippine vessel had “ignored numerous warnings from China” and “deliberately swerved and collided in an unprofessional, dangerous manner” with a Chinese boat. “The responsibility lies entirely with the Philippines,” the Chinese Coast Guard said.

The Philippines has troops stationed on the BRP Sierra Madre, a former US Navy ship the country grounded in 1999 at the Second Thomas Shoal – known as Ayungin Shoal to Manila and Ren’ai Reef to Beijing – to enforce its claim to the area. China disputes Manila’s claim and the two countries have been involved in increasingly frequent run-ins in the high contested waterway.

The Philippines said in its statement Sunday that one of its vessels had been towed by the Philippine Coast Guard back to Ulugan Bay on the Philippine island of Palawan, while another vessel suffered damage to its mast, the statement read.

It also said another resupply vessel, Unaizah Mae 1 (UM1), successfully reached BRP Sierra Madre and “resupply is ongoing,” despite the supply vessel having been rammed by a Chinese Coast Guard ship.

“We condemn, once again, China’s latest unprovoked acts of coercion and dangerous maneuvers against a legitimate and routine Philippine rotation and resupply mission,” Tarriela said, adding that it had “put the lives of our people at risk.”

Maritime disputes across the vast South China Sea have ratcheted up in recent years as an increasingly assertive China militarizes disputed islands and confronts its regional rivals over their competing claims in the strategically important and resource-rich waterway.

Beijing claims “indisputable sovereignty” over almost all of the 1.3 million square miles of the South China Sea, as well as most of the islands and sandbars within it, including many features that are hundreds of miles from the Chinese mainland.

The waterway is vital to international trade and is also home to vast fertile fishing grounds upon which many lives and livelihoods depend.

Source : CNN

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