The Philippines has accused Chinese coastguard vessels of “intentionally” colliding with its vessels on a resupply mission in a disputed part of the South China Sea, saying Beijing is “obfuscating the truth”.
On its part, China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs released a statement on Monday, warning Manila to refrain from using “slanderous” and “provocative” declarations over the two maritime collision incidents involving Chinese and Philippine vessels over the weekend.
The incidents took place on Sunday near Second Thomas Shoal, which lies within Manila’s Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ), as the Philippines tried to resupply sailors on the Sierra Madre, a ship it grounded there in 1999.
Both sides claim sovereignty over these parts of the South China Sea and the two countries frequently engage in maritime incidents involving coastguard, military and supply vessels.
The Chinese vessels “harassed and intentionally hit” the Philippine vessels which were “conducting legitimate rotation and resupply operations within the exclusive economic zone of the Philippines”, Philippine Defence Secretary Gilbert Teodoro told reporters on Monday.
Although no personnel were harmed in the incident, Jonathan Malaya, spokesperson at the Philippine National Security Council, said Manila was “concerned by the escalation and provocations by Chinese vessels, who have no business being in the West Philippine Sea”.
China’s Foreign Ministry released a statement on Monday warning Manila to stop “provocations” and take Chinese concerns seriously.
“Stop dangerous maneuvers, stop creating more tensions in the region, stop groundlessly attacking and slandering China, and to tow away the illegally ‘grounded’ warship as soon as possible,” deputy chief of mission Zhou Zhiyong said in an embassy statement.