A Philippine boat and a Chinese coast guard ship collided on Sunday near the disputed Second Thomas Reef in the South China Sea. The incident occurred during a Philippine supply mission to a small military post on the reef, which is part of the Spratly Islands and claimed by both sides.
Philippine authorities said Chinese vessels “defamed, blocked and carried out dangerous maneuvers” on two Philippine supply ships on Sunday. A Chinese coast guard ship ‘rammed’ one of the supply ships.
Water cannons used
A Chinese ship also used water cannons against the two supply ships and an escort ship of the Philippine Coast Guard. The engine of a supply ship was “severely damaged” and the coast guard ship was also damaged.
The Chinese coast guard, on the other hand, blamed the Philippine ship for the “deliberate collision” with the Chinese ship. The Philippine ship first ignored a number of clear warnings, then ‘suddenly’ changed course and collided with the coast guard ship. “The responsibility lies entirely with the Philippine side,” the Chinese coast guard said.
Just on Saturday, the Philippines accused the Chinese coast guard of using water cannons to “obstruct” three boats delivering supplies to Philippine fishing boats near Scarborough Reef, off the main island of Luzon.
China claims the entire South China Sea
China claims virtually the entire South China Sea for itself. Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines and Vietnam also claim parts of the maritime area, which is of great strategic and economic importance to the neighboring states.
The International Court of Arbitration in The Hague declared some of the Chinese claims unlawful in 2016. However, China does not recognize the ruling. In 2012, China took control of Scarborough Reef. Beijing has since sent patrol boats to the area, which Manila says prevent Philippine fishing boats from entering the fish-rich waters of the lagoon.
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