US Renews Philippines Protection Pledge After China Ship Collisions

The U.S. has reaffirmed its protection obligations to treaty ally the Philippines after two Philippine vessels finishing up a routine provide mission collided with Chinese language ships attempting to dam them in an more and more disputed area of the South China Sea.

The conduct of the Chinese language ships “jeopardized Filipino crew members’ security and impeded critically wanted provides from reaching service members,” the U.S. Division of State mentioned Sunday.

It added that obstructing the Philippines’ maritime actions “undermines regional stability.” The State Division reiterated that the U.S.-Philippines Mutual Protection Treaty covers assaults on all Philippine forces “wherever within the South China Sea.”

Eric Sayers, nonresident fellow on the American Enterprise Institute assume tank, mentioned on Monday on X (previously Twitter) that he hopes to see the U.S. authorities conform to “escort and resupply missions” in help of its Philippine ally.

On Sunday morning, a Chinese language coast guard ship laid a collision course with a Philippine provide boat in an effort to maintain the smaller vessel from resupplying Philippine-held atoll referred to as Second Thomas Shoal within the hotly contested Spratly Islands, in line with the Philippines’ Nationwide Safety Council. This resulted in a minor collision about 10 miles from the shoal, the place a small detachment of Philippine Marines has been stationed since 1999.

A Philippine maritime patrol vessel on a collision course with a Chinese language coast guard ship on Sunday, October 22, 2023. The U.S. State Division has reiterated its help for the Philippines following the incident.
Philippine Coast Guard

The second incident passed off about six miles from the shoal when a Chinese language Maritime Militia ship tried to dam one of many Philippine coast guard cutters escorting the provision mission. Philippine officers mentioned nobody was harm in both collision, although the broken boat was unable to hold out its mission. The extent of the hull harm continues to be being assessed, they mentioned.

The Maritime Militia contains unofficial, principally unarmed, fishing vessels recruited by the Chinese language authorities to assist implement its huge claims within the South China Sea. These ships have been often accused of aggressive conduct, corresponding to ramming.

China’s territorial claims put it at odds with competing positions by the Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei, and Taiwan. A global arbitral tribunal in 2016 dominated in favor of the Philippines and shot down China’s assertions. Beijing has disregarded this ruling.

The Nationwide Job Drive for the West Philippine Sea condemned “within the strongest diploma the most recent harmful, irresponsible, and unlawful actions of the [Chinese Coast Guard] and the Chinese language Maritime Militia this morning.”

The Philippines’ Division of Overseas Affairs summoned China’s deputy chief of mission on Monday, because the ambassador was unavailable. The Philippines has lodged 465 protests in opposition to China for the reason that starting of 2020, with 55 being filed to date this yr, a division spokesperson mentioned.

China’s coast guard hit again in a press release accusing the Philippine provide ships and their escorts of coming into Chinese language waters with out permission as a way to “illegally ship” supplies. “The Philippine boats approached in an unsafe method, in disregard of the strict warnings of the Chinese language facet and triggered a collision,” the assertion mentioned.

Manila accused Beijing of violating the legally binding 2016 arbitral ruling, in addition to a 1972 worldwide conference on conduct for stopping maritime collisions, which each nations signed. In keeping with this settlement, vessels should use each doable means to establish and keep away from potential collisions in addition to keep away from of ships which have the appropriate of manner.

Newsweek has reached out to the Chinese language Overseas Ministry with a request for remark.

Canadian ambassador to the Philippines, David Hartman, mentioned Ottawa stands “in full unity” with the nation over “protection of its territorial integrity.” European Union Ambassador Luc Véron mentioned “these incidents, their repetition and intensification are harmful and really disturbing.”

Sunday’s collisions are the most recent in a string of showdowns which can be souring ties between the 2 nations. In August, Chinese language coast guard ships fired water cannons at their Philippine counterpart because it ferried provides to Second Thomas Shoal.

Final month, the Philippines dismantled a floating barrier erected by Chinese language forces to dam Philippine fishermen from their fishing grounds close to one other disputed atoll, Scarborough Shoal. China has warned the Philippines to not “fire up hassle.”