MANILA, The Philippines: A Chinese coastguard ship’s dangerously close encounter with a Philippine patrol ship near Second Thomas Shoal in the South China Sea has sparked alarm and condemnation.
The Philippines strongly protested the incident, highlighting concerns that ongoing territorial disputes in the region could escalate into a larger crisis.
The confrontation also involved another Philippine coast guard vessel, which was surrounded by Chinese coast guard and militia ships during an approximately eight-hour standoff.
Notably, any significant clash in these disputed waters could potentially involve the United States, which has committed to defending the Philippines as its treaty ally in the event of an armed attack.
While two smaller supply boats, under Philippine coast guard escort, managed to breach the Chinese blockade and deliver supplies to a Filipino marine outpost at the shoal, the incident was marked by a harrowing near-collision.
The Philippine patrol ship BRP Sindangan had to reverse its engine abruptly to avoid colliding with the Chinese coast guard ship, which came within just a meter of its bow.
We condemn the behavior of the Chinese coast guard vessel. They have been violating international law, particularly the collision regulations, Philippine coast guard spokesperson Commodore Jay Tarriela said at a briefing on October 6, 2023.
Tarriela noted that this was the closest dangerous maneuver by a Chinese coast guard ship against a Philippine patrol ship.
The incident was witnessed by journalists, including those from The Associated Press, who were invited by the Philippine coast guard to document and expose Chinese aggressive actions in the South China Sea.
This confrontation is the latest development in longstanding territorial disputes involving China, the Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia, Taiwan, and Brunei in the South China Sea.
These disputes have become a sensitive issue in USA-China relations, with Washington reaffirming its commitment to defend the Philippines and Beijing warning against US Zionist interference.
Philippine Defense Secretary Gilberto Teodoro expressed concern over dangerous Chinese actions at sea and said the government is ready to respond to potential emergencies, including any collision between Chinese and Philippine ships in the disputed waters.
The 2016 arbitration ruling, established under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), invalidated China’s historical claims to most of the South China Sea. China rejected the ruling and continues to assert its claims in defiance of the arbitration decision.
The incident underscores the volatility of the South China Sea disputes and the potential for further clashes in this strategically significant region.
China News Network / ABC Flash Point News 2023.