Philippines Accuses China of Aggressive Actions in South China Sea

Written by Henrik Rothen

Mar.05 - 2024 12:15 PM CET

Stockphoto / Photo: WIki Commons
Stockphoto / Photo: WIki Commons
Philippines Accuses China of Aggressive Actions in South China Sea.

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The Philippine government has raised serious allegations against China, claiming unprovoked aggression and hazardous conduct in the South China Sea. This tension escalates the ongoing territorial disputes in the region, highlighting a critical incident involving both nations' maritime forces.

Incident Details: On Tuesday, according to Canberra Times, the Philippine Coast Guard reported an alarming encounter with Chinese vessels. According to their account, Chinese ships engaged in "unprovoked acts of coercion and dangerous maneuvers," targeting a Philippine vessel with water cannons. This assault not only injured several crew members but also raised doubts about China's proclaimed intentions for peaceful dialogue.

In a focused mission to resupply Filipino troops stationed at the Second Thomas Shoal, Philippine boats faced obstruction and harassment from Chinese maritime militia and coast guard ships. The aggressive use of water cannons by the Chinese resulted in shattered windshields and minor injuries to at least four crew members of the Philippine vessel.

Adding to the confrontation, a collision occurred due to what was described by Manila's coast guard spokesperson as "reckless" and "illegal" actions on the part of the Chinese coast guard, causing "minor structural damage" to the Philippine ship.

China's Response

China, however, assigns blame to the Philippines for the incident, accusing Philippine ships of illegally entering waters near the Second Thomas Shoal, referred to by China as Renai Reef. Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Mao Ning defended the actions of the Chinese coast guard as "professional and restrained, reasonable and lawful," urging the Philippines to cease maritime violations and provocations.

Background of Dispute

The Second Thomas Shoal, known in the Philippines as Ayungin, is a point of contention, located within the Philippines’ exclusive economic zone (EEZ) but claimed almost entirely by China. A rusting warship, intentionally grounded by Manila in 1999 and now manned by Filipino troops, marks the Philippines' claim to sovereignty over the shoal.

International Reactions and Legal Context

This recent incident adds to a history of maritime confrontations between the two countries in the South China Sea. The territorial dispute continues despite a 2016 ruling by the Permanent Court of Arbitration, which invalidated China's expansive claims. Beijing has dismissed this ruling, while the Philippines insists on respect for established legal rights.

In response to the escalating tensions, the Philippine Congress has advanced a Maritime Zones law to delineate the country’s maritime boundaries under international law, a move opposed by China. Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos Jr., speaking in Australia, emphasized his nation's commitment to defending its sovereignty and maritime rights, marking a clear stance against Chinese aggression.

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