Gan Yu, a spokesman for the China Coast Guard, said on Friday three Philippine coastguard ships and two cargo vessels made an “unapproved entry” into the disputed waters.
He said the coastguard followed and took control measures against the Philippine vessels and made “temporary special arrangements for the Philippines to transport food and other necessary daily supplies”.
“The Philippines’ actions violate China’s territorial sovereignty, violate the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea, and violate its own commitments. We urge the Philippines to immediately stop its infringing actions,” Gan said.
“The China Coast Guard will continue to carry out rights protection and law enforcement activities in waters under China’s jurisdiction in accordance with the law and resolutely safeguard national sovereignty and maritime rights and interests.”
“CCG vessel 5203 deployed water cannon against Philippine supply vessel M/L Kalayaan in an illegal though unsuccessful attempt to force the latter to alter course,” a Philippine government task force said in a statement on Friday.
Since Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos Jnr came to power in 2022, Manila has been pursuing closer ties with its traditional ally, the United States, while tensions with China have been increasing over the territorial dispute in the South China Sea. The Marcos’ government has filed more than 120 diplomatic protests against Beijing’s actions in the disputed water.
Second Thomas Shoal – known as Renai Reef in China and Ayungin Shoal in the Philippines – is controlled by Manila but also claimed by Beijing, Taipei and Hanoi. It is within the Philippines’ exclusive economic zone, about 120km from the island of Palawan.
The Philippines has outposts on nine reefs and islands in the Spratly Islands – called Nansha in Chinese – including Second Thomas Shoal.
Manila deliberately grounded the BRP Sierra Madre – a US-made tank-landing ship from World War II – on the shoal in 1999 to contain China’s advance in the waters after China occupied nearby Mischief Reef.
Beijing claims almost the entire South China Sea, including the Spratlys, where the Philippines and other Southeast Asian nations have overlapping claims.