Manila: The Philippines on Sunday accused China’s coast guard of blocking and water-cannoning a Philippine military supply boat in the South China Sea, condemning the “excessive and offensive actions” against its vessels.
China claims sovereignty over almost the entire South China Sea, an assertion rejected internationally, while Malaysia, Vietnam, Brunei, Taiwan and the Philippines have various claims to certain areas.
Beijing often irks its neighbours with maritime actions they call aggressive and with longer-term activities like building islands on reefs and equipping them with missiles and runways.
A Chinese coast guard vessel on Saturday blocked and water-cannoned the chartered Philippine boat on a routine troop rotation and resupply mission, “in wanton disregard of the safety of the people on board and in violation of international law”, the Armed Forces of the Philippines said.
It said in a statement the incident occurred near the Second Thomas Shoal, which Manila calls Ayungin Shoal, a submerged reef where a handful of its troops live on a rusty World War II-era US ship that was intentionally grounded in 1999.
The Chinese coast guard’s “dangerous manoeuvres” prevented a second boat from unloading the supplies and completing the mission, it said.
The Australian ambassador to the Philippines, Ms HK Yu, said on X, formerly known as Twitter: “Australia is concerned by the latest actions directed against the Philippines, which are dangerous and destabilising. We reiterate our call for peace, stability, and respect for UNCLOS in the South China Sea – a vital international waterway.”
The Chinese embassy in Manila did not immediately respond to a request for comment.