Phillippines Accuses China of Vessel Damage in Disputed Waters

Rejecting Beijing’s claim that it had removed the boats off the contentious shoal, the Philippines said on Tuesday that the coast guard of China had harassed and damaged two of its vessels in a contested region of the South China Sea.

As part of their mission to aid Filipino fishermen in the region, two coast guard ships and a fisheries vessel were damaged by water cannons fired by Chinese coast guard vessels, according to the Philippines’ task force on South China Sea problems. Marine boats and the Chinese coast guard rammed the fishing vessel three times.

More than $3 trillion worth of yearly ship-borne trade passes through the South China Sea, claimed by China, the Philippines, Vietnam, Indonesia, Malaysia, and Brunei, among others. The claim was upheld despite Beijing’s rejection of the 2016 ruling by an international tribunal. As a result of China’s activities, the Philippines began to doubt the country’s commitment to easing tensions in the strait.

According to the Philippine task force, the fishing vessel’s radio, ventilation, electrical, and navigational systems were damaged.

Both countries have leveled charges of wrongdoing in Scarborough Shoal, and the Philippines has summoned a Chinese envoy to account for aggressive maneuvers. The Philippines are often said by China to be invading Chinese land.

There have been many clashes in the seas around the atoll’s lagoon in recent years, and China has occupied it for almost ten years. The Coast Guard in China announced the expulsion of the ships without going into any information about what happened. China had set up a floating barrier to limit access to the shoal, and the Philippines’ warship, the BRP Bagacay, sustained railing and canopy damage.

As the Philippines has strengthened its diplomatic and military connections with the US, tensions with China have risen. The Philippines had the barrier taken down in September after China put it up last year, claiming it violated international marine law.