China bullies Phl resupply vessels

The Philippines and China on Sunday blamed each other for the collisions of their ships in the West Philippine Sea, a portion of the South China Sea which the two countries both claim.

The two countries separately issued strongly worded statements after the collision of their vessels near the Ayungin Shoal, which the latter refers to as Ren’ai Reef.

The National Task Force for the West Philippine Sea accused the CCG of performing “dangerous blocking maneuvers” that resulted in a collision with the Unaiza on May 2.

The Unaiza May 1 and 2 are boats contracted by the Armed Forces of the Philippines for a resupply mission to the BRP Sierra Madre. Unaiza 1 was able to complete its mission.

The NTF-WPS condemned the “provocative, irresponsible, and illegal action” of the China Coast Guard ship, which “imperiled the safety” of the Unaiza May 2 crew.

The United States and Canada condemned China’s action, while Germany expressed concern over the latest development in the WPS. (See related story)



In the same resupply mission, a Chinese maritime militia vessel “bumped” the Philippine Coast Guard BRP Cabra’s port side, which was escorting the resupply vessels while it was lying approximately 6.4 nautical miles northeast of Ayungin Shoal.

The NTF-WPS said it “condemns in the strongest degree the latest dangerous, irresponsible, and illegal actions of the CCG and the Chinese maritime militia done this morning.”

It stated that the Philippine sovereignty, sovereign rights, and jurisdiction were “violated” by the conduct of the Chinese Coast Guard and maritime militia vessels.

The Philippines also described the incident as an “utter blatant disregard of the United Nations Charter, the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea Convention on the International Regulations for Preventing Collisions at Sea and relevant international maritime conventions, and the 2016 Arbitral Award.”

For its part, China blamed the Philippines, stressing that its vessels “trespassed” into the adjacent waters of Ren’ai Reef in China’s Nansha Islands without permission.

“Since the Philippine side ignored China’s repeated warnings, the China Coast Guard responded lawfully and blocked the Philippine vessels which were illegally carrying construction materials,” the CCG said in a statement shared by the Chinese Embassy in Manila to Filipino journalists.

The CCG also said that the Unaiza Mae 2 “sailed at the bow of China Coast Guard 5203 (which it said was conducting law enforcement activities lawfully) in a way that was neither professional nor safe in spite of China’s advanced notice and repeated warnings.”

China also blamed the Philippine side for the “bumping” of the PCG’s BRP Cabra and its militia vessel.

“At 08:13 A.M., the Philippine vessel 4409 began to astern deliberately, leading to the collision of the stern of its vessel into the starboard of China’s static floating Qiong Sansha Yu 00003,” it said.

“The move was to make faults with China and escalate the current situation,” it added.

It continued: “The Philippines’ action seriously violated the International Regulations for Preventing Collisions at Sea and threatened the navigation safety of the Chinese vessels.”

China also insisted that their operations were “professional, legitimate and lawful and the responsibility lay entirely with the Philippine side.”

Ayungin Shoal, also known as Second Thomas Shoal, is 105 nautical miles west of Palawan and part of the Philippines’ exclusive economic zone.

China claims the vast South China Sea, including the West Philippine Sea.

On 12 July 2016, the Philippines won its arbitral case against China in the Permanent Court of Arbitration — a landmark decision that China continues to reject.

 WITH RAFFY AYENG @tribunephl_raf

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