Chinese vessels collide with Philippine boats on resupply mission

Gaea Katreena Cabico - Philstar.com
Chinese vessels collide with Philippine boats on resupply mission
Chinese coast guard ships (L and R) corral a Philippine civilian boat chartered by the Philippine navy to deliver supplies to Philippine navy ship BRP Sierra Madre in the disputed South China Sea, on August 22, 2023.
AFP / Ted Aljibe

MANILA, Philippines (Update 1: 5:37 p.m.) — Chinese vessels blocked and collided with Philippine boats sending supply to troops stationed at the BRP Sierra Madre in the West Philippine Sea, authorities said Sunday. 

In a statement, the National Task Force for the West Philippine Sea said that the “dangerous blocking maneuvers” of the China Coast Guard vessel 5203 caused it to collide with Unaiza May 2, an Armed Forces of the Philippines-contracted indigenous resupply boat, 13.5 nautical miles east northeast of the grounded warship at Ayungin Shoal this morning. 

“The provocative, irresponsible, and illegal action of CCGV 5203 imperiled the safety of the crew of Unaiza 2,” the task force said. 

The NTF-WPS also said that a Chinese maritime militia vessel “bumped” a patrol vessel of the Philippine Coast Guard approximately 6.4 nautical miles northeast of Ayungin Shoal during the same resupply mission.

According to authorities, the mission is still ongoing, with the supply boat Unaiza May 1 reaching BRP Sierra Madre. 

The task force said the actions of the CCG and the Chinese maritime militia violate the sovereign rights and jurisdiction of the Philippines, and disregard international maritime conventions and the 2016 arbitral award that Beijing does not recognize. 

The China Coast Guard said its move to block Philippine boats was “reasonable, lawful and professional.”

“During the process, the Philippine vessels approached the Chinese side in an unsafe manner in disregard of the stern warnings of the Chinese side and caused a collision. The responsibility lay entirely with the Philippine side,” the CCG said in a statement posted by the Chinese Embassy in Manila.

China asserts sovereignty over almost the entire South China Sea, despite the international court ruling that deemed its stance to have no legal basis.

Its coast guard, navy and maritime militia vessels routinely block or shadow Philippine patrol and supply boats. 

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