South China Sea: A Chinese ship collides with a Philippine supply ship near the Spratly Islands

TAIPEI (AP) — A Chinese ship and a Philippine supply ship collided near the disputed Spratly Islands in the South China Sea on Monday, the Chinese Coast Guard said. In the latest escalation Of the escalating regional conflicts that have raised concern.

The Coast Guard said a Philippine supply ship entered the waters near Second Thomas Shoal, a submerged reef in the Spratly Islands that is part of territory claimed by several countries. The Philippine military described the Chinese Coast Guard’s report as “deceptive and misleading.”

The Chinese Coast Guard said in a statement on the social media platform WeChat that the Philippine supply ship “ignored China’s repeated official warnings… and dangerously approached a Chinese ship in normal navigation in an unprofessional manner, leading to its collision.”

“The Philippines is fully responsible for this,” she added.

In Manila, the Philippine military said it “will not discuss operational details on the legal rotation of humanitarian aid and the resupply mission at Ayungin Shoal, which is within our exclusive economic zone.” It used the Filipino name for the shoal, where Philippine Navy personnel ferried food, medicine and other supplies to a long-established warship that served as a regional outpost for Manila.

Military spokesman Colonel Xerxes Trinidad said: “We will not respect the deceptive and misleading claims of the Chinese Coast Guard.” “The main issue remains the illegal presence and actions of Chinese vessels within the Philippines’ exclusive economic zone, which violates our sovereignty and sovereign rights,” he added.

“The CCG’s continued aggressive actions are escalating tensions in the region,” Trinidad said.

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The Philippines says the shallow waters, located less than 200 nautical miles (370 kilometers) from its coast, are within its internationally recognized exclusive economic zone, and often refers to International Arbitration 2016 The ruling invalidated China’s expansionist claims in the South China Sea on historical grounds.

There have been several incidents in recent months near the shoal, where the Philippines maintains an outpost aboard the BRB Sierra Madre, which has been covered in rust since it was deliberately grounded in 1999 but remains an active military vessel, meaning an attack on it could… It is happening. The Philippines considers it an act of war.

China has become increasingly assertive in pressing its sovereignty claim over almost the entire South China Sea, which has led to an increasing number of direct conflicts with other countries in the region, most notably the Philippines and the United States. Vietnam.

A new law passed by China, which took effect on Saturday, allows the Coast Guard to seize foreign ships “illegally entering Chinese territorial waters” and detain their foreign crews for up to 60 days. The law reiterated a reference to 2021 legislation stipulating that the Chinese Coast Guard can fire on foreign ships if necessary.

At least three coastal governments that claim sovereignty over the waters – the Philippines, Vietnam and Taiwan – have said they will not recognize the law.

The regional disputes have strained relations and raised fears that the conflict could push China and the United States, a long-time ally of the Philippines, into a military confrontation. Washington does not stake any territorial claims on the busy sea route, a major global trade route, but it has done so It warned that it was obligated to defend the Philippines if Philippine forces, ships and aircraft were subjected to armed attack In the South China Sea.

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Along with China, the Philippines, Vietnam and Taiwan, Malaysia and Brunei are also involved in long-standing territorial disputes, which are a flashpoint in Asia and a delicate fault line in the long-standing rivalry between the United States and China in the region.

Indonesia has also encountered Chinese coast guard and fishing fleets in the past in the gas-rich waters off the Natuna Islands. On the outskirts of the South China Sea, where it blew up the Chinese fishing boats that detained it. Its navy has also fired warning shots at Chinese ships straying into what Jakarta considers its exclusive economic zone.

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Gomez contributed from Manila, Philippines.

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