China coast guard says Philippine supply ship bumped Chinese ship in South China Sea

June 17, 2024 - 9:50 AM
An aerial view shows the BRP Sierra Madre on the contested Second Thomas Shoal, locally known as Ayungin, in the South China Sea, March 9, 2023 (File Photo via Reuters)

A Philippine supply ship dangerously approached a Chinese ship resulting in a slight collision after it illegally intruded into waters adjacent to the Second Thomas Shoal in the South China Sea, the Chinese coast guard said on Monday, a claim which Manila’s military said was “deceptive and misleading”.

The Philippine transport and replenishment ship ignored China’s repeated solemn warnings, the coast guard said in a statement.

The guard said the vessel deliberately and dangerously approached the Chinese ship in an unprofessional manner, resulting in a collision. The statement made no mention of injuries or damage to either vessel.

“We will not dignify the deceptive and misleading claims of the China Coast Guard (CCG),” Xerxes Trinidad, chief of the Philippine armed forces’ public affairs office, told reporters, adding they would not discuss operational details of resupply missions. “The continued aggressive actions of the CCG are escalating tensions in the region.”

The main issue remains to be the illegal presence and actions of Chinese vessels within the Philippines‘ exclusive economic zone (EEZ), the military said.

Philippine Coast Guard spokesperson Jay Tarriela said the agency was not in a position to provide any details as it was not a coast guard operation.

For months, China and the Philippines have traded accusations over dangerous maneuvers and collisions at the Second Thomas Shoal, an atoll in the Philippines‘ EEZ.

Several incidents have happened when the Philippines deploys resupply missions for Filipino soldiers living aboard an aging warship there deliberately run aground to protect Manila’s maritime claims.

China claims almost the entire South China Sea, a conduit for more than $3 trillion of annual ship-borne commerce, including parts claimed by the Philippines, Vietnam, Indonesia, Malaysia and Brunei.

China had previously warned the Philippines about intruding into its territorial waters and the country has issued new rules, which went into effect on June 15, that would enforce a 2021 law allowing its coastguard to use lethal force against foreign ships in waters that it claims.

The new rules allows China’s coastguard to detain suspected trespassers without trial for 60 days.

—Reporting by Bernard Orr and Shanghai newsroom, and Neil Jerome Morales in Manila; Editing by Kim Coghill and Lincoln Feast