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Philippines To Continue Troop Resupply Missions To Grounded Ship Despite China’s “Aggressive Force”


The Philippines’ Defence Chief has accused China of using “aggressive and illegal force” to disrupt a resupply mission in the South China Sea. He said last week’s maritime incident, which injured a sailor, was neither a misunderstanding nor an accident.

Defence Secretary’s Statement

“We are not downplaying the incident,” Defence Secretary Gilberto Teodoro said during a media briefing. His statement came after the Chairman of the Philippine Maritime Council suggested that the clash was probably a misunderstanding or an accident.

On June 17, a Philippine sailor suffered serious injuries after what the military described as “intentional high-speed ramming” by the Chinese Coast Guard. This attack was aimed at disrupting a resupply mission for troops stationed on the Second Thomas Shoal. The Philippine military also reported that Chinese Coast Guard personnel, armed with knives and spears, looted firearms. And “deliberately punctured” Philippine boats involved in the mission.

China’s Response

China’s Foreign Ministry disputed the Philippines’ account. A spokesperson said the measures taken by the Coast Guard were lawful and professional.

“We see the latest incident in Ayungin not as a misunderstanding or an accident. It is a deliberate act of the Chinese officialdom to prevent us from completing our mission,” Teodoro said, using the local name for the Second Thomas Shoal. “It was an aggressive and illegal use of force. We, however, continue to seek peaceful solutions to this issue,” he added.

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Philippines’ Stance

Teodoro affirmed that the Philippines would continue to resupply its troops stationed on a rusting warship grounded on Second Thomas Shoal. He mentioned that they would not publicise the schedules of these missions. He also said the missions do not require permission or consent from anyone.

In response to Teodoro’s remarks, the Chinese foreign ministry urged the Philippines to “stop its infringement and provocation”. And to “work with China to safeguard peace and stability in the South China Sea”. It also called on Manila to stop “violations” and “misleading the international community.”

President Ferdinand Marcos emphasized on Sunday that the Philippines does not instigate wars. And always aims to resolve disputes peacefully.

Territorial Dispute Context

The Second Thomas Shoal is within the Philippines’ exclusive economic zone in what Manila calls the West Philippine Sea. However, China claims almost the entire South China Sea under its so-called nine-dash line. The claims overlap with the exclusive economic zones of Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines, Taiwan, and Vietnam. A 2016 arbitral tribunal ruling invalidated China’s claim over these strategic waters. Beijing does not recognise the judgement.

With Inputs from Reuters