South China Sea Collision: Philippines Holds China Responsible for Injuries and Damage

South China Sea Collision Philippines Holds China Responsible for Injuries and Damage

Amid simmering tensions over territorial disputes in the strategically significant and resource-rich South China Sea waterway, Manila has accused China of wounding Filipino troops and destroying Philippine warships following a collision earlier this week.

The Philippine Department of Foreign Affairs released a statement on Wednesday, which was the first official confirmation from either side that injuries and damage were sustained.

China and the Philippines have both pointed the finger at one another for the clash that occurred on Monday near Second Thomas Shoal in the disputed Spratly Islands.

It comes after several accounts of Filipino sailors being hurt that were published by the Associated Press, local media, and US officials, citing sources.

The statement from the Philippine Department of Foreign Affairs said that it “denounces the illegal and aggressive actions of Chinese authorities that resulted in personnel injury and vessel damage,” but it did not list the number of sailors who were hurt or give any information about their symptoms.

The AP said on Tuesday that at least eight Filipinos were hurt in the incident, including one sailor who lost his thumb. The official spoke on the condition of anonymity.

“Law enforcement measures taken by the Chinese Coast Guard on the spot were professional and restrained, aimed at stopping the illegal fishing by Philippine ships, and no direct measures were taken against Philippine personnel,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Lin Jian said in response to questions regarding the incident during a news conference on Wednesday.

The episode that occurred on Monday is the most recent in a series of clashes between Chinese and Philippine vessels that have heightened concerns about the South China Sea turning becoming a hotbed of international hostilities.

Only a few weeks had passed since Philippine President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. issued a warning, stating that any Filipino citizen killed by a foreign nation in a waterway would be “very close” to an act of war.

Second Thomas Shoal, also called Ayungin Shoal in the Philippines and Ren’ai Jiao in China, is a submerged reef resembling a teardrop that is situated roughly 200 kilometers (125 miles) away from the Philippine island of Palawan.

It is located in the relatively uninhabited Spratly Islands, an archipelago claimed by China, the Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei, and Taiwan, where oil and gas reserves have been discovered.

In an effort to assert Manila’s territorial claims over Second Thomas Shoal, the Philippines brought resupplies to its soldiers stationed on board the BRP Sierra Madre, a rusting US-built Philippine Navy landing ship that was purposefully run aground in 1999. A national flag was flown aboard.

A Philippine supply ship “ignored China’s repeated solemn warnings,” according to the China Coast Guard, and “deliberately and dangerously” approached a Chinese vessel in “an unprofessional manner,” which led to a collision on Monday.

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According to China Coast Guard spokesperson Gan Yu, two rubber boats and a supply ship from the Philippines had made an attempt to “illegally” transport supplies to the trapped navy.

The Philippine vessels were subjected to “warnings and interceptions, boarding inspections, and forced evictions,” according to the Chinese Coast Guard.

On Monday, a number of US officials emphasized Washington’s support for Manila and denounced China’s actions.

According to US State Department spokesperson Matthew Miller, “the United States stands with its ally the Philippines and condemns the escalatory and irresponsible actions” by China.


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