On Friday (Nov 10), the Philippines leveled accusations against the China coast guard, citing “dangerous harassment” of Filipino boats in the disputed South China Sea. This altercation occurred during a Philippine mission aimed at delivering provisions to a small garrison on Second Thomas Shoal, part of the Spratly Islands and a long-standing flashpoint between the two nations.
China regularly deploys coast guard and other vessels to patrol the contentious region, asserting its claim to nearly the entire South China Sea. Manila asserted that the Chinese coast guard and other vessels engaged in “reckless harassment, blocking, and executing dangerous maneuvers” in an attempt to “illegally impede or obstruct” the resupply mission on Friday.
According to the Philippines’ National Task Force for the West Philippine Sea, a Chinese coast guard vessel deployed a water cannon against one of two supply boats. The supply mission also faced “extremely reckless and dangerous harassment at close proximity” by Chinese boats within the shoal. Despite these challenges, the Philippine vessels successfully delivered their cargo.
“Took Control Measures”
China, however, countered these claims, stating that it “took control measures” against two Philippine transport boats and three coast guard vessels, asserting that they were in Chinese waters. China Coast Guard spokesperson Gan Yu argued, “The Philippines’ actions infringe on China’s territorial sovereignty,” and urged an immediate halt to what they deemed “infringing actions.”
Situated about 200km from the western Philippine island of Palawan, Second Thomas Shoal is over 1,000km from China’s nearest major landmass, Hainan island. The disputed area has a few Filipino troops stationed on the BRP Sierra Madre, grounded on the reef in 1999 by the Philippine Navy to counter China’s advances in the waters. These troops depend on resupply missions for their survival.
The Philippine National Task Force reported that the Philippine embassy in Beijing lodged a protest with the Chinese foreign ministry, emphasizing that the recent incident had “put the lives of our people at risk.” The statement further questioned the sincerity of China’s calls for peaceful dialogue, considering the systematic and consistent nature of what the Philippines deems “illegal and irresponsible actions.”