A Chinese ship collided with a Filipino supply boat in the South China Sea on Sunday, prompting the U.S. to issue a stern warning to Beijing against increased aggression in the region.
A standoff between over a dozen Chinese vessels and four Filipino vessels in the Second Thomas Shoal on Sunday ended with a collision between two of the boats, prompting accusations of aggression from both Beijing and the Philippines government, according to The Associated Press. The U.S. subsequently condemned China for the event and warned that it would defend the Philippines per a decades-old mutual defense treaty. (RELATED: China Makes Latest Expansion Into Heavily-Disputed Area Of South China Sea)
“The United States stands with our Philippine allies,” a statement from the U.S. Embassy in Singapore reads. “PRC (People’s Republic of China) Coast Guard and maritime militia violated international law by intentionally interfering with the Philippine vessels’ exercise of high seas freedom of navigation.”
— Reuters (@Reuters) October 23, 2023
“The United States reaffirms that Article IV of the 1951 U.S.-Philippines Mutual Defense Treaty extends to armed attacks on Philippine armed forces, public vessels, and aircraft – including those of its Coast Guard – anywhere in the South China Sea,” the statement reads.
The U.S. also reiterated that China has “no legal basis” to conduct maritime operations in the Second Thomas Shoal, an atoll that falls within the Philippines’ exclusive economic zone, according to the statement. China has long claimed that the South China Sea is its own territory and can conduct whatever business it wishes within the region, despite having little international recognition to do so.
The standoff began after Filipino Coast Guard ships and vessels delivering supplies to an outpost at the Second Thomas Shoal and subsequently encountered a blockade of five Chinese coast guard ships, two naval vessels and eight accompanying boats, according to the AP. One of the Filipino supply boats and a Chinese coast guard ship subsequently collided with each other, and a second collision occurred between a Chinese naval vessel and a Filipino coast guard ship a short distance from the shoal.
No one was harmed in either incident, according to Reuters.
The Philippine government said the Chinese warship “intentionally” rammed into the supply vessel and condemned the act as a “blatant violation of international law,” according to Reuters. China’s embassy in Manila accused the Filipino vessels of “trespassing” and warned the Philippines government to stop “causing trouble and provocation” in the South China Sea.
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