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The Philippines accuses China of using “unlawful force” in an aggressive incident in the South China Sea

Philippine defense chief Gilberto Teodoro has accused China of using “aggressive and illegal force” to disrupt a supply mission in the South China Sea. The incident last week, in which a Filipino sailor was injured, was neither a misunderstanding nor an accident, Teodoro said.

“We are not downplaying the incident,” Teodoro said during a media briefing. He was commenting on a statement by the chairman of the Philippine Maritime Council, who mentioned that the collision could have been a misunderstanding or an accident.

One Filipino sailor was seriously injured after the military described a “deliberate high-speed ramming” by the Chinese coast guard. The incident occurred on June 17 during a resupply mission for troops stationed at Second Thomas Shoal. The Philippine military reported that members of the Chinese Coast Guard, armed with knives and spears, captured firearms and “deliberately rammed” the Philippine boats involved in the mission.

In contrast, China’s Foreign Ministry challenged the Philippines’ account, and its spokesman said the Chinese coast guard’s actions were acceptable, lawful, and professional.

Teodoro stressed that the incident at Ayungin (Second Thomas Shoal) was a deliberate act by the Chinese authorities to prevent the Philippines from completing its mission. “It was an aggressive and illegal use of force. But we still hope for a peaceful resolution,” he said.

Despite the incident, Teodoro confirmed that the Philippines will continue to resupply its troops stationed on the rusting warship that ran aground off Second Thomas Shoal. He noted, however, that the schedules of these missions will not be made public.

In response to Teodoro’s statement, the Chinese Foreign Ministry called on the Philippines to stop “violations and provocations” and work with China to maintain peace and stability in the South China Sea, which is more than audacious. The ministry also accused Manila of “misleading the international community.” The second Thomas Shoal is located in the exclusive economic zone of the Philippines. Such a statement is very insolent among states that violate agreed international treaties.

This is yet another reminder of China’s aggressive policy, China claims almost the entire South China Sea under the so-called nine-dash line, which overlaps with the exclusive economic zones including our country and also Brunei, Malaysia, Taiwan and Vietnam. A 2016 arbitration court ruling, which Beijing does not recognize, invalidated China’s extensive claims in the region.

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