China coast guard says it took measures against Philippine vessels in South China Sea

By Thomson Reuters Mar 22, 2024 | 9:21 PM

MANILA/SHANGHAI (Reuters) – China’s coast guard said it had taken control measures against Philippine vessels in disputed waters of the South China Sea on Saturday, while the Philippine coast guard decried the moves as “irresponsible and provocative”.

The incident occurred in the Second Thomas Shoal and Spratly Islands waters, according to the Chinese coast guard. The shoal is home to a small number of Filipino troops stationed on a warship that Manila grounded there in 1999 to reinforce its sovereignty claims.

China claims almost the entire South China Sea, including the Second Thomas Shoal, and has deployed vessels to patrol the disputed atoll. A 2016 ruling by the Permanent Court of Arbitration found that China’s sweeping claims have no legal basis.

A Philippine civilian boat was hired to resupply the troops this week, and was escorted by two Philippine navy ships and two Philippine coast guard vessels, according to a statement from the Philippine armed forces on Saturday.

A Philippine coast guard vessel was “impeded” and “encircled” by one Chinese coast guard vessel and two Chinese maritime militia vessels, the Philippine Coast Guard said in a separate statement.

As a result, the Philippine coast guard vessel was “isolated” from the resupply boat by the “irresponsible and provocative behaviour” of the Chinese maritime forces, the Philippine coast guard said.

The Chinese side showed a “disregard” for the Convention on the International Regulations for Preventing Collisions at Sea (COLREGS).

(Reporting by Neil Jerome Morales in Manila, and the Beijing and Shanghai Newsrooms. Editing by Gerry Doyle)