The Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) accused its Chinese counterpart of dangerous maneuvers that could have caused a collision during a resupply mission in the contested South China Sea, the second incident this year.
The incident happened on June 30 near Ayungin Shoal (Second Thomas Shoal) in the West Philippine Sea. The West Philippine Sea is the name usually used by the Philippines for the part of the South China Sea within the nation’s Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ), where it holds exclusive rights to natural resources.
Speaking with reporters, Commodore Jay Tarriela, Phillippines Coast Guard spokesperson for the West Philippines Sea, said they deployed BRP Malabrigo and BRP Pascua to assist the resupply mission of the Armed Forces of the Philippines.
“When the two PCG vessels reached a distance of 10.59 nautical miles away from Ayungin Shoal, they saw these two Chinese vessels,” he said, referring to Chinese Coast Guard (CCG) vessels with body numbers 5201 and 4203.
“What they did was they came close to the two PCG vessels within an approximate distance of 100 yards,” he added.
To prevent a dangerous collision, Tarriela said they decreased their speed, and the foreign vessel sent out radio challenges to them.
“In response, we also challenged their presence,” he said, citing the area where it happened was within the Philippines’ Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ).
“They are not supposed to be within our EEZ and that they were carrying out dangerous maneuvers and violating the 1972 Convention on the International Regulations for Preventing Collisions at Sea,” he said.
It was the second this year after a similar incident happened in February, where the Chinese Coast Guard pointed a laser at one of the PCG ships, causing temporary blindness to the crew.
A Chinese Coast Guard vessel blocking the Philippine Coast Guard’s BRP Malabrigo in the South China Sea on June 30. PHOTO: PHILIPPINE COAST GUARD
The Philippine ship was on a mission to deliver food and supplies to the troops stationed on the BRP Sierra Madre, an old naval vessel deliberately run aground on the shoal to serve as a military post since 1999.
Reacting to the incident, Raymond Powell, project lead at the Gordion Knot Center for National Security Innovation and a former US senior defense official, said in his Twitter account the CCG ships were “in position to interdict” the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) vessels escorting small resupply boats.
“China responded with an armada of two coast guard and seven militia ships, plus one other 90-meter probable navy or coast guard ship,” said Powell.
“After the resupply, the two CCG ships pursued the PCG ships to the east. CCG 3103, which had just arrived from Scarborough Shoal, returned to China’s nearby military base at Mischief Reef. CCG 4203 has resumed its patrol of Sabina Shoal,” he added.
Opposition senator Risa Hontiveros described the latest aggression of China as reckless and irresponsible as it is completely disrespectful of international law.
Hontiveros urged President Ferdinand Marcos Jr to raise the issue to the United Nations General Assembly.
“I hope that the Senate can tackle my resolution regarding this as soon as session resumes, as we need the support of the wider international community to stop China’s unbridled aggression,” Hontiveros said.
Another lawmaker, Senator Jinggoy Ejercito Estrada, said he was “deeply concerned” about the reported incident.
“This violates our sovereignty and territorial integrity as well as endangers the safety and security of our maritime forces,” Estrada said.
Controversy Over ‘Barbie’ Map Of The Nine-Dash Line
Meanwhile, the country’s Movie and Television Review and Classification Board (MTRCB) said it is currently reviewing whether to release the highly-anticipated fantasy-comedy film “Barbie” in cinemas nationwide.
The MTRCB released a statement following Vietnam’s decision to prohibit the film’s domestic distribution. The ban was imposed due to a scene in the movie that depicted a nine-dash line on a Chinese map, symbolizing territorial claims over parts of the South China Sea.
The nine-dash line, as seen in a screengrab from the ‘Barbie’ trailer
The U-shaped “nine-dash line” is a cartographic representation used in Chinese maps to assert a unilateral claim over extensive portions of the South China Sea. This claim encompasses areas Vietnam considers part of its continental shelf, where it has granted oil concessions.
“We confirm that the Board has reviewed the film “Barbie” today, July 4, 2023,” MTRCB said. “At this time, the assigned Committee on First Review is deliberating on the request of Warner Brothers FE Inc. for a Permit to Exhibit,” it added.
After deliberating, the agency said it would display the committee’s decision on its website.
“Barbie” is the latest movie to be banned in Vietnam for depicting China’s controversial nine-dash line, which was repudiated in an international arbitration ruling by a court in The Hague in 2016. China refuses to recognize the ruling.
The 2016 landmark international tribunal ruling was a result of the arbitration case filed by the administration of the late President Benigno Aquino III against China for claiming the entire South China Sea, including waters within the exclusive economic zones of Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines, Vietnam, and Taiwan.
While Indonesia does not regard itself as a party to the South China Sea dispute, Beijing claims historic rights to parts of that sea, overlapping Indonesia’s EEZ.
- Jeoffrey Maitem is a freelance journalist from the Philippines.
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