2023October 2023

Collisions Between Philippine and Chinese Ships Spark International Outcry

Karissa Kromminga
Staff Writer

Two recent collisions between Philippine and Chinese ships in the South China Sea are raising international concern. Reuters reports that according to Philippine officials, a Philippine coast guard ship and a military-run supply boat was rammed by a Chinese coast guard ship and an accompanying vessel near Second Thomas Shoal. The run-ins have raised concerns over armed conflict and escalation in the South China Sea.

According to Reuters, Chinese authorities said on October 22 that there had been a slight collision during a coast guard stop of Philippine ships carrying “illegal construction materials.” Manila responded that China’s actions were, “in violation of Philippine sovereignty, sovereign rights and jurisdiction,” calling them, “dangerous, irresponsible and illegal actions.” According to Reuters, “Beijing claims sovereignty over almost the entire South China Sea, including parts of the exclusive economic zones of Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines and Vietnam. The Permanent Court of Arbitration in 2016 said China’s claims had no legal basis.”

The actions represent an increase in aggression by Chinese ships in the South China Sea, which raises concern over potential escalation. According to The Associated Press, the South China Sea is one of the busiest trade routes in the world, and China has downplayed past claims that they enforce Beijing’s territorial claims using paramilitary ships disguised as fishing boats. 

This region is a flashpoint for escalation between the United States and China. Philippine officials summoned the Chinese ambassador on October 23 after The Guardian reports that Philippine foreign ministry spokesperson Teresita Daza said Manila was “making full use of diplomatic processes” in response to the incidents. U.S. President Joe Biden said during a joint press conference at the White House that, “The United States defense agreement with the Philippines is ironclad. Any attack on the Filipino aircraft, vessels or armed forces will invoke our mutual defense treaty with the Philippines.” 

According to the New York Post, President Biden has taken a more conciliatory approach to China in the past, saying that he is looking for competition, not conflict. Along with Biden, the U.S. Ambassador to the Philippines Marykay Carlson said on X, formerly known as Twitter, that, “The United States condemns the People’s Republic of China’s latest disruption of a legal Philippine resupply mission to Ayungin Shoal, putting the lives of Filipino service members at risk. We stand with our friends, partners, and allies in protecting Philippine sovereignty and in support of a free and open Indo-Pacific.”

Along with the U.S., other countries have also condemned the actions of China. The European Union Ambassador to the Philippines Luc Véron said on X that, “These incidents, their repetition and intensification are dangerous and very disturbing. We join the Philippines in its call for the full observance of International Law in the South China Sea.” 

According to Rappler, the Canadian Embassy described China’s actions as being incompatible with its obligations to comply with the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS). The collisions sparked concern over potential escalation in the South China Sea. As China ramps up its use of aggressive tactics in the region, it is put in direct contestation with Western nations like the U.S. due to mutual defense treaties that exist within the region.

Image courtesy of Picryl

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Share This