Asia - Pacific

Chinese coast guard 'searches' Philippines vessel in disputed waters

Beijing’s move to block and search Filipino vessel comes after China Coast Guard implemented new measures

Riyaz ul Khaliq  | 17.06.2024 - Update : 17.06.2024
Chinese coast guard 'searches' Philippines vessel in disputed waters


In fresh escalation between Beijing and Manila, China Coast Guard (CCG) personnel on Monday “blocked, boarded, searched” a Philippines vessel which “intruded” into waters near Ren'ai, a submerged reef in the Spratly Islands, South China Sea, state media reported.

The vessel was later “forcefully expelled” from the disputed where it “attempted to send materials to its illegally grounded warship,” said the CCG.

Earlier on Monday, the CCG said a Philippine vessel “intruded” into waters near Ren'ai at around 05:59 a.m. China time (2159GMT, Sunday). “The act led to a slight collision, for which the responsibility lies entirely with the Philippine side,” it added.

It is the first time since the CCG implemented its new rules of engagements in the vast disputed sea on Saturday.

Under the new guidelines, China can detain suspected trespassers for up to 60 days.

The CCG said the Philippine vessel “disregarded repeated stern warnings” from the Chinese side and “deliberately and dangerously approached Chinese vessels navigating normally in adjacent waters of Ren'ai Jiao.

​​​​​​​The Philippine ship was on a resupply mission to a grounded World War II-era warship, the BRP Sierra Madre, on the shoal claimed both by Beijing and Manila.

While Beijing accused Manila of “violating” the International Regulations for the Prevention of Collisions at Sea, the latter called China's claims “deceptive and misleading.”

Manila confirmed Beijing's actions and accused the Chinese Navy, the CCG and the Chinese Maritime Militia of "disrupting" its supply vessel through "illegal and aggressive actions."

"Chinese vessels engaged in dangerous maneuvers, including ramming and towing," said the Philippines National Task Force that overlooks maritime issues in the disputed sea.

​​​​​​​The two maritime neighbors have conflicting claims over the Second Thomas Shoal — also known as the Ayungin Shoal, Bai Co May and Ren'ai Jiao — a submerged reef in the Spratly Islands in the South China Sea.

Vessels from China and the Philippines have also collided several times in the recent past, including when Manila shipped supplies to a rusting World War II-era warship, the BRP Sierra Madre, which Beijing wants the Philippines to remove.

The US and its allies have backed Manila over its claims against Beijing.

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