MANILA, Philippines (AP) – Chinese Coast Guard vessels slammed and used water cannons on two Philippine service vessels en route to the disputed shallow-occupied shoal in the South China Sea, sparking angry protests against China and warning the U.S. government covered, a leading diplomat from Manila said on Thursday.
Philippine Foreign Minister Teodoro Locsin Jr. said no one was injured in the incident in disputed waters on Tuesday, but two service ships had to suspend their mission to supply food to Philippine troops occupying another Thomas Shoal, located in western Palawan. Province in the internationally recognized economic zone of the Philippines.
Locsin said in a tweet that the actions of three Chinese coastguard vessels were illegal and asked them to “take note and retreat.”
The Philippine government has conveyed to China “our rage, condemnation and protest over the incident,” Locsin said, adding that “this failure of self-control threatens the special relationship between the Philippines and China” that President Rodrigo Duterte and his Chinese counterpart are. , Xi Jinping, have worked hard to nurture.
There was no immediate comment from the Chinese authorities in Manila or Beijing.
The case is the latest outbreak of long-running territorial disputes over a strategic waterway where China, the Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei and Taiwan have overlapping claims. China owns virtually the entire waterway and has turned seven controversial shoals into missile-protected island bases to reinforce its demands, adding to tensions and alerting rival claimants and U.S.-led Western governments.
Washington has no requirements on a busy waterway, but has patrolled the area with its navy of ships and aircraft to reassure its allies, including the Philippines, and to ensure freedom of navigation and overflight. China has repeatedly warned the United States to stay out of controversial waters and not to interfere in it as a regional problem.
President Joe Biden and his predecessor, Donald Trump, have repeatedly reassured the Philippines that the United States will honor its obligation under a mutual defense agreement if Philippine troops, ships or planes are attacked in a long-disputed area.