The Philippines repeated its call for China to stop “provocative actions”, warning that its attempts to block Manila’s resupply missions to a disputed atoll in the South China Sea could have “disastrous results”.
Jonathan Malaya, spokesperson at the National Security Council (NSC), said in a news conference on Monday that China’s move to interfere with a resupply mission on Sunday resulted in damage to one of Manila’s boats, but that no one was harmed.
In the incident early Sunday (22 October), China’s coastguard said there had been a “slight collision” between one of its ships and the Philippine boat while the coastguard was “lawfully” blocking the boat from transporting “illegal construction materials” to the warship.
The ship was resupplying the BRP Sierra Madre, a former warship grounded on the Second Thomas Shoal and used as a base for Philippine marines. The shoal is in the Philippines’ exclusive economic zone.
Manila responded by condemning “in the strongest degree” the “dangerous blocking manoeuvres” of the Chinese vessel.
It has also summoned the Chinese ambassador and has filed a diplomatic protest, its foreign ministry said.
The Philippine Coast Guard has yet to evaluate the extent of damage to the supply boat’s hull, but its spokesperson, Jay Tarriela said in the same news conference that it was “deep” and “more than a scratch”.
NSC’s Malaya accused China of “increasing tensions” in the South China Sea and maintained it was China’s actions that caused Sunday’s collision.
“We are relieved and thankful that no Filipino personnel were harmed. But we are concerned by the escalation and provocations by Chinese vessels who have no business being in the West Philippine Sea,” Malaya said.
The Philippines, Malaysia and Taiwan have rejected as baseless a recent map released by China that denotes its claims to sovereignty including in the South China Sea.
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