Chinese Vessels Ram Philippine Military Vessel In Disputed Waters

Two Chinese ships on Sunday rammed a Philippine coast guard vessel and the supply boat it was escorting through contested waters of the South China Sea, the Associated Press reported.

A Philippine security official told the AP that an assessment of the damage to both vessels was underway but no injuries were reported among the crews.

Both incidents occurred near Second Thomas Shoal, an area in the South China Sea where China has repeatedly attempted to blockade a Philippine marine outpost. The official said the two incidents could have been worse if the Philippine vessels had not been able to rapidly move away from the Chinese ships.

China’s broad territorial claims to the South China Sea, including claims to islands closer to the Philippines, have increased tensions in the region, bringing the United States into the fray.

MaryKay Colson, the US Ambassador to the Philippines, condemned the latest incidents in a post on X and said that the US stands with its allies in protecting the Philippines’ sovereignty.

State Department spokesman Matthew Miller also reaffirmed that the United States’ mutual defense treaty with the Philippines extends to any attacks on Philippine vessels and forces in the South China Sea.

China’s coast guard claimed that its ships were prompted to intervene after the Philippine vessels had “trespassed” into Chinese waters “without authorization” even after repeated radio warnings. The Chinese also blamed the collisions on the Philippine vessels, claiming that they violated “international rules” about avoiding collisions and threatened the “navigation safety of our vessels.”

China claimed that the vessels were carrying “illegal construction” materials.

According to Manila, the collisions occurred while Philippine coast guard vessels were escorting two supply boats delivering food and other supplies to the Philippine outpost that had been under a blockade by the Chinese.