International concerns mount over South China Sea collision incident
In a latest incident in the contested South China Sea, the Philippines has accused China of being an "aggressor," claiming that China's actions have led to an increase in tensions and a collision that damaged one of Manila's boats during a resupply mission. While no one was harmed in the collision, the incident has drawn international condemnation and heightened concerns from the United States.
The collision occurred on Sunday when a Chinese coast guard ship and a smaller Philippine resupply boat made contact near the Second Thomas Shoal, which is known as Ayungin in the Philippines and Renai Reef in China. The Philippines has stationed troops aboard the BRP Sierra Madre, a former warship grounded on the shoal in 1999 to assert its sovereignty claims within the country's 200-nautical-mile exclusive economic zone.
The Philippines President, Ferdinand Marcos Jr., held a security meeting to discuss what he referred to as "the latest violation by China" and ordered an investigation into the incident, emphasizing that it is being taken seriously at the highest level of government. Tensions have been growing between the Philippines and China under Marcos's leadership, with the Philippines seeking closer ties with the United States and expressing concerns about Beijing's aggressive behavior.
The Philippines has urged China to halt its "illegal" and "provocative" actions in the South China Sea and emphasized the need to respect the 2016 ruling of the Permanent Court of Arbitration, which stated that China's expansive claims had no legal basis. The Philippine coast guard shared images showing its resupply operation surrounded by several larger Chinese coast guard vessels.
China has defended its actions, stating that the collision resulted from a "slight collision" that occurred while its coast guard was lawfully preventing the transport of "illegal construction materials." This is not the first time that China's coast guard, backed by maritime militia boats, has interfered with the Philippines' resupply missions. In a previous incident on August 5, a Chinese coast guard ship used a water cannon against a resupply boat.
The international community has been closely watching