A collision between a Chinese ship and a Filipino supply boat in the South China Sea on Sunday led to a strong U.S. warning to Beijing about rising regional aggression.
A confrontation involving numerous Chinese and Filipino vessels at Second Thomas Shoal on Sunday culminated in a collision between two boats, triggering allegations of aggression from both Beijing and the Philippine government.
In response, the U.S. censured China for the incident and reiterated its commitment to defending the Philippines as per a long-standing mutual defense treaty.
The U.S. Embassy in Singapore released a statement, saying, “The United States stands with our Philippine allies. PRC (People’s Republic of China) Coast Guard and maritime militia violated international law by intentionally interfering with the Philippine vessels’ exercise of high seas freedom of navigation.”
The statement continues, “The United States reaffirms that Article IV of the 1951 U.S.-Philippines Mutual Defense Treaty extends to armed attacks on Philippine armed forces, public vessels, and aircraft – including those of its Coast Guard – anywhere in the South China Sea.”
The U.S. emphasized once again that China lacks a legal foundation for carrying out maritime activities in the Second Thomas Shoal, situated within the Philippines’ exclusive economic zone. China has persistently asserted control over the South China Sea, maintaining the right to conduct various activities in the area despite limited international acknowledgment of such claims.
The confrontation was initiated when Filipino Coast Guard vessels and supply ships en route to an outpost at the Second Thomas Shoal encountered a blockade consisting of five Chinese Coast Guard ships, two naval vessels, and eight accompanying boats.
This resulted in a collision between one of the Filipino supply boats and a Chinese coast guard ship. Additionally, a second collision took place between a Chinese naval vessel and a Filipino coast guard ship.
A Chinese coast guard ship and an accompanying vessel rammed a Filipino coast guard ship and a military-run supply boat Sunday off a contested shoal. Learn more:https://t.co/pqdWpNFjQq#China #Philippines
— Statecraft (@statecraftdaily) October 23, 2023
No injuries resulted from either incident, as reported by Reuters.
The Philippine government asserted that the Chinese warship “intentionally” collided with the supply vessel and decried the action as a “blatant violation of international law.”
Meanwhile, China’s embassy in Manila accused the Filipino vessels of “trespassing” and cautioned the Philippine government to refrain from “causing trouble and provocation” in the South China Sea.