On the 18th, the Philippines accused the China Coast Guard (Coast Guard) of using a water gun on a ship carrying supplies to the Philippine army in China’s South China Sea. The boat had to abort the resupply run.
Foreign Minister Teodoro Locsin said the incident happened on the 16th when a Philippine ship headed to the Second Thomas Shoal in the Spratly Islands.
“Fortunately, no one was injured, but our ship stopped its supply mission,” Locsin said on Twitter that it was “illegal” to obstruct the course and use water cannons by three China Coast Guard vessels.
Locsin suggested that Philippine vessels are private vessels and are subject to the US-Philippines Mutual Defense Treaty.
China has no right to enforce the law in this area and “must hear the advice and withdraw,” he said.
Filipino troops are stationed in BRP Sierra Madre, a transport ship intentionally grounded in 1999 to serve as an outpost of the Philippine Navy. Ayungin Shoal— which is within the Philippines’ exclusive economic zone— is around 20 nautical miles from Panganiban (Mischief) Reef, one of the features occupied by China in the Kalayaan Island Group that it transformed into military outposts.
As per the Foreign Minister, the Ayungin Shoal is part of the Kalayaan Island Group (KIG), and an integral part of the Philippines, as well as the Philippines’ exclusive economic zone and continental shelf, and over which the Philippines has sovereignty, sovereign rights, and jurisdiction.
“The acts of the Chinese Coast Guard vessels are illegal. China has no law enforcement rights in and around these areas. They must take heed and back off,” he said.
Locsin said incidents like these “threatens the special relationship between the Philippines and China that President Rodrigo R. Duterte and President Xi Jin Ping have worked hard to nurture.”
Maintaining that the Philippines will continue to provide supplies to troops in Ayungin Shoal, Locsin said “We do not ask permission to do what we need to do in our territory.”
The resource-rich seas have sparked tensions that spiked this year after hundreds of Chinese vessels were detected at Whitsun Reef, which is also in the Spratly archipelago.
China has claimed almost all of the sea with competing claims from Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines, Taiwan, and Vietnam. Trillions of dollars trade pass through the area. China has ignored a 2016 international tribunal decision declaring its historical claim over most of the sea to be without basis