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Philippine and Chinese vessels collide in disputed South China Sea and 4 Filipino crew are injured

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Philippine and Chinese vessels collide in disputed South China Sea and 4 Filipino crew are injured


In this handout photo provided by the Philippine Coast Guard, a Chinese coast guard ship approaches a Philippine coast guard ship, foreground, causing a minor collision, in the vicinity of Second Thomas Shoal on Tuesday, March 5, 2024.

In this handout photo provided by the Philippine Coast Guard, a Chinese coast guard ship approaches a Philippine coast guard ship, foreground, causing a minor collision, in the vicinity of Second Thomas Shoal on Tuesday, March 5, 2024.
| Photo Credit: AP

Chinese and Philippine coast guard vessels collided in the disputed South China Sea and four Filipino crew members were injured on Tuesday in high-seas confrontations as Southeast Asian leaders gathered for an Asian summit where alarm over Beijing’s aggression at sea was expected to be raised.

The Chinese Coast Guard ships and accompanying vessels blocked the Philippine Coast Guard and supply vessels off the disputed Second Thomas Shoal and executed dangerous manoeuvres that caused two minor collisions between the Chinese ships and two of the Philippine vessels, Philippine officials said.

The BRP Sindangan of the Philippine Coast Guard had minor structural damage from the collision that happened shortly after dawn.

Over an hour later, another Chinese coast guard ship first blocked and then collided with a supply boat the Philippine coast guard was escorting, the Philippine officials said.

Canon attack

The supply boat, manned by Filipino Navy personnel, was later hit by water cannon blasts from two Chinese coast guard ships. Its windshield shattered, injuring at least four Filipino crew members, according to a statement from the Philippine government task force dealing with territorial disputes.

The task force said the actions by the Chinese was “another attempt to illegally impede or obstruct a routine resupply and rotation mission.”

“China’s latest unprovoked acts of coercion and dangerous maneuvers” against Philippine ships en route to deliver supplies and fresh troops to the Philippine-occupied shoal “put the lives of our people at risk and caused actual injury to Filipinos,” it said.

Envoy summoned

The Department of Foreign Affairs in Manila summoned China’s Deputy Ambassador to convey a protest against the Chinese coast guard’s actions, which it said were unacceptable.

A small Philippine marine and Navy contingent has kept watch onboard a rusting warship, the BRP Sierra Madre, which has been marooned since the late 1990s in the shallows of the Second Thomas Shoal.

China also claims the shoal lying off the western Philippines and has surrounded the atoll with coast guard, Navy and other ships to press its claims and prevent Filipino forces from delivering construction materials to fortify the Sierra Madre in a decades-long standoff.

The shoal has been the site of several tense skirmishes between Chinese and Philippine coast guard ships last year.

Washington strongly condemned the Chinese coast guard’s actions and its Ambassador in Manila, MaryKay Carlson, said the U.S. stands with the Philippines and proponents of international law. Australia and Japan separately expressed their concern over China’s actions.

The long-simmering territorial disputes in the South China Sea are expected to be discussed at a summit of leaders of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations and their Australian counterpart on Wednesday in Melbourne.



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