China continues to aggressively press its ownership claim over the entire stretch of the disputed South China Sea, leading to many skirmishes and tense encounters in Asia’s most contested water body.
Video Credits: B.C.Begley
Recently, one such incident has come to attention, as captured in the video.
Crew Members of a Philippine Coastguard vessel watched as a Chinese vessel came extremely close and cut off their path in the South China Sea.
Captain of BRP Sindagan, the Philippine Coastguard Vessel, shut off the engine and activated the reverse throttle. The Chinese coastguard issued a warning for the vessel to leave.
One of the Filipino crew responded, “In accordance with international and Philippine national laws, we are proceeding.”
“Request to stay clear from our passage.”
Encounters like this around 185 km off the Philippines have become frequent as China asserts its sovereignty over the entire South China Sea.
This incident symbolises a more complex struggle between China and its neighbouring nations that are determined to uphold their sovereign rights in their exclusive economic zones.
The Philippine Coastguard Ship was escorting smaller boats to the Second Thomas Shoal. The boats were loaded with necessary supplies for the Filipino troops posted to a makeshift garrison on the Sierra Madre, a Second World War Navy Ship intentionally grounded on the reef.
Second Thomas Shoal- A Battleground Between China and the Philippines
The presence of Filipino Troops on this rusty vessel has irritated China, which does not want to tolerate anyone challenging its presence in the South China Sea.
It also asked the Philippines to remove this ship; however, the Philippines refused to do so and stood its ground, which irked Beijing even more, creating tensions and turning the Second Thomas Shoal into a battleground.
Beijing has also deployed its coastguard ships and fishing boats 1150 km from its coast.
Soon after, a grey navy vessel began to follow the Sindangan, joining the 4 Chinese coastguard vessels and 5 other boats suspected by the Philippines of being militia.
Sindangan watched as the supply boats advanced to complete the 17 km journey to reach the troops on the Siera Madre.
China condemned this resupply operation, saying Philippine vessels intruded into its waters in the Spratly Islands without permission.
China-Philippines relations have tensed even more after Manila strengthened its military engagement with Washington.
The Philippines and the U.S have a Mutual Defense Treaty, and US has said that it would protect Manila if its coastguard were attacked in the South China Sea.
Jay Tarriela of the Philippine Coastguard said it is their right to operate freely in their exclusive economic zone and accused China of violating international law.
References: IndiaToday, LiveMint
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