Philippines says Chinese ships rammed, damaged its boats

The Philippine government on Monday accused Chinese ships of ramming and damaging its boats in the South China Sea during a confrontation in waters off the Second Thomas Shoal, home to a garrison of Filipino troops.

“The People’s Liberation Army-Navy, China Coast Guard and Chinese Maritime Militia vessels engaged in dangerous maneuvers, including ramming and towing,” Manila’s national task force on the West Philippine Sea said in a statement.

“Their actions put at risk the lives of our personnel and damaged our boats.”

The Second Thomas Shoal has seen an escalating number of confrontations between Chinese and Philippine ships in recent months.

These have often taken place during Philippine resupply missions to a garrison of Filipino troops on a grounded navy vessel, the Sierra Madre, aimed at asserting Manila’s claims to the reef.

The shoal lies about 200 kilometres (120 miles) from the western Philippine island of Palawan and more than 1,000 kilometres from China’s nearest major landmass, Hainan island.

The Chinese coast guard said early Monday a Philippine resupply ship in the area had “ignored many solemn warnings from the Chinese side” and that they “took control measures” against it “in accordance with the law.”

It “approached the… Chinese vessel in an unprofessional way, resulting in a collision”, Beijing said.

Philippine Defence Secretary Gilberto C. Teodoro, vowed to defend his country’s sovereignty, saying China’s “dangerous and reckless behaviour in the West Philippine Sea shall be resisted”.

“It should now be clear to the international community that China’s actions are the true obstacles to peace and stability in the South China Sea,” he added.

The Philippine government statement did not specify which boats were rammed and the extent of the damage.

Manila’s allies voiced concern over China’s actions.

The United States ambassador to Philippines, MaryKay Carlson said in a post on social media X that Washington “condemns” China’s “aggressive dangerous maneuvers which caused bodily injury, damaged Philippine vessels, and hindered lawful maritime operations.”

Japan’s ambassador Endo Kazuya expressed his country’s “grave concern over the repeated dangerous and aggressive actions” by the China Coast Guard.

“We oppose any threat or use of force contrary to international law,” reacted the French ambassador Marie Fontanel in a social media post.