Manila reports injuries in clash at sea with China

Manila reports injuries in clash at sea with China

Water cannon fired by Chinese coast guard shatters windshield of resupply vessel in disputed waters

Philippine Coast Guard personnel inspect the hull of the BRP Sindangan following a collision with a Chinese Coast Guard ship in the disputed South China Sea on Tuesday. (Photo: Philippine Coast Guard via Reters)
Philippine Coast Guard personnel inspect the hull of the BRP Sindangan following a collision with a Chinese Coast Guard ship in the disputed South China Sea on Tuesday. (Photo: Philippine Coast Guard via Reters)

The Philippines said four crew members on one of its ships were injured after China used water cannons during a military resupply mission in the South China Sea on Tuesday, in the latest faceoff between the two nations.

Manila’s task force on the South China Sea said China’s “unprovoked acts of coercion and dangerous manoeuvres” had put lives at risk.

A Philippine vessel’s windshield was shattered due to the water cannons deployed by two Chinese coast guard vessels, causing minor injuries to personnel, the task force said in a statement.

China’s coast guard said the Philippine vessels illegally intruded into its waters.

The Philippine Coast Guard vessels “faced dangerous manoeuvres and blocking from Chinese coast guard vessels and Chinese maritime militia”, spokesperson Jay Tarriela said in a separate post on X that also showed images.

The collision resulted in “minor structural damage” to the Philippine ship, he said.

China’s coast guard said in a statement that it took “control measures in accordance with the law against Philippine ships that illegally intruded into the waters” near Ren’ai Reef, also known as Second Thomas Shoal.

It also said Philippine vessels deliberately collided with its ships and ignored warnings. China claims nearly all of South China Sea including the contested Spratly Islands, which it calls Nansha Islands.

An international tribunal in 2016 ruled in favour of Manila and said the Chinese claims had no basis in historical fact but Beijing has refused to recognise the ruling.

Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos Jr said on Monday that his country had pursued bilateral engagements with China to resolve their dispute in the South China Sea, but criticised the “pattern of aggression” in the contested waters.

Luc Véron, the The European Union’s ambassador to the Philippines, said in a post on X that he was troubled by Tuesday’s “pattern of manoeuvres and blocking” from Chinese ships “targeting Philippine vessels”.

He reiterated the EU’s call for all parties to abide by the 2016 arbitral ruling, that voided China’s sweeping maritime claims.

In October, the Philippines said two of its vessels collided with Chinese boats during a mission to deliver supplies to a South China Sea outpost. Vessels from the two countries again faced off in multiple clashes in the contested waters in December, with China’s coast guard saying a Philippine boat ignored warnings and “deliberately collided” with its vessel.

In Tuesday’s incident, two Philippine coast guard vessels were deployed to support the military’s resupply operation to the BRP Sierra Madre, a World War II-era vessel that Manila deliberately grounded on Second Thomas Shoal in 1999 to serve as a military outpost.

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