Philippines and China Spar After Two Vessels Collide

( – The Philippine government is alleging that vessels belonging to the Chinese coast guard “intentionally” collided with a Philippine coast guard vessel on a resupply mission in the disputed area of the West Philippine Sea.

According to Philippine authorities, Chinese coast guard vessels engaged in “dangerous blocking maneuvers” that caused the ships to collide with one another. Gilberto Teodoro, the secretary of the Philippines’ Department of Defense, condemned the incident, saying that the Chinese blatantly violated international law and “harassed and intentionally hit” Philippine coast guard vessels.

The Philippine government has long accused the Chinese of trying to block its resupply missions to the small number of troops it has stationed in a few key areas. The incident follows another just two months ago where a Chinese vessel fired water cannons at Philippine coast guard boats.

China has in turn called out the Philippines for “trespassing” into its territory and accused the Philippine government of “causing trouble and provocation” in the disputed area.

The U.S., for its part, has sided with the Philippines, a small but long-time ally – and also a one-time colony – with Jake Sullivan, the U.S. national security adviser calling Chinese actions in the area “dangerous and unlawful.”

The Chinese have laid claim to the sea and the islands in the area as part of its “Nine-dash line” policy, which encompasses a wide swath of territory that covers maritime areas not only claimed by the Philippines, but also that of Vietnam, Indonesia, and Malaysia.

Through the years, the Chinese have made aggressive inroads in staking its claim on the territory, which is regularly patrolled by its coast guard. Many Chinese fishing vessels have also begun fishing the area, often damaging coral habitats. China has also built several large structures in a number of the islands in the disputed area. All these activities have continued unabated despite the Philippines winning a case it filed against China at the Permanent Court of Arbitration at The Hague a decade ago.

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