South China Sea Clash: Philippine, Chinese Vessels Collide

South China Sea Clash: Philippine, Chinese Vessels Collide

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In a recent development in the ongoing territorial dispute in the South China Sea, a Philippine vessel and a Chinese ship have been involved in a collision near a contested reef. This incident marks another chapter in the ongoing tensions between the Philippines and China in this region.

The Philippine government has strongly condemned the actions of the Chinese ship, alleging harassment, blocking, and dangerous maneuvers. This confrontation follows an earlier incident where the Philippines claimed that China used water cannons to hinder the passage of three Filipino boats.

The core of this dispute lies in the South China Sea, a strategic and resource-rich area that has been a subject of conflicting claims by China, the Philippines, and several other nations.

On Sunday, the Philippines reported an aggressive encounter involving Chinese vessels and Philippine civilian supply boats at the Second Thomas Shoal in the Spratly Islands. According to the Philippine National Task Force for the West Philippine Sea, a Chinese coast guard ship collided with one of the Philippine boats, causing significant damage, including to the engine, after deploying a water cannon.

However, the China Coast Guard has presented a different version of the events. They accuse the Philippine boat of initiating the collision after ignoring multiple warnings from the Chinese side.

In a separate but related incident, a group of civilian boats planning to deliver Christmas gifts and supplies to Filipino fishermen and troops stationed in the South China Sea had to cancel their trip. The organizer cited persistent monitoring by Chinese vessels as the reason for this decision.

These maritime tensions have been escalating. Just a day before the collision, the Philippines accused China of employing war cannons to block three of its vessels, labeling these actions as illegal and aggressive. Beijing, in response, stated that it exercised “control measures” on ships that entered its waters without authorization.

Earlier in the week, the Philippines had also accused China of militarizing the region, following the sighting of over 135 Chinese military boats near a Philippine reef.

The dispute has intensified since Ferdinand Marcos Jr. assumed the presidency in the Philippines. The Philippines has recently conducted joint air and sea patrols with the United States and Australia, showcasing their strategic alliances.

Related: From Submerged Reefs To Underwater Canyons: China’s New Claims In The South China Sea

In 2016, an international tribunal rejected China’s claim to 90% of the South China Sea. Despite this, China has continued to assert its claim, including constructing artificial islands in these disputed waters.

This territorial dispute has also become a point of contention in China-US relations. In October, US President Joe Biden stated that the US would defend the Philippines in the event of an attack. This statement came following two incidents involving Filipino and Chinese vessels in the contested waters.

The South China Sea is also claimed in parts by Taiwan, Malaysia, Vietnam, and Brunei, making it one of the most complex and sensitive geopolitical areas in the region.

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