A Philippine vessel reportedly intentionally collided with a Chinese ship near Ren'ai Reef, leading to increased tensions between the two nations.
In a statement on December 11, the Chinese Coast Guard (CCG) said the incident prompted it to claim a breach of a tacit understanding with the Philippines, criticizing the latter for unprofessional operations.
The CCG stated that it implemented restriction measures in response to two coast guard ships, one government ship, and one transport ship from the Philippines attempting to send building materials to its grounded warship on Ren'ai Jiao. The CCG deemed these actions a serious violation of China's sovereignty, justifying the implementation of lawful restriction measures.
According to China, the Philippine vessel, Unaiza May 1, intentionally collided with CCG ship 21556 despite stern warnings, resulting in a minor collision.
Chen Xiangmiao, director of the world navy research center at the National Institute for South China Sea Studies, attributed the heightened tensions to the Philippines' unilateral breach of the tacit understanding with China. The Philippines' unprofessional operations, including sending building materials without informing China, were highlighted as contributing factors.
Chen noted the Philippines' escalation of provocations since August, partly encouraged by recent U.S. actions. The intrusion of the USS Gabrielle Giffords into waters near Ren'ai Reef without Chinese authorization further heightened tensions, with the PLA Southern Theater Command monitoring the U.S. vessel.
During the incidents, the China Coast Guard utilized water cannons as part of what it calls restriction measures. Experts clarified that China's actions were defensive, aimed at warning and stopping provocations rather than offensive use.
Philippines: Chinese Ships Ram Philippine Vessels, Hits Crews with Water Cannons
Separately, Chinese maritime forces reportedly damaged three Philippine vessels -- BRP Datu Sanday (MMOV-3002), BRP Datu Bankaw (MMOV-3004) and BRP Datu Tamblot (MMOV-3005) -- in two consecutive incidents. On December 8, CCG vessels disrupted a Filipino fishermen's resupply mission near Scarborough Shoal, using water cannons and long-range acoustic devices. The Philippines claimed that water cannons were used at least eight times during the incident.
Similar harassment occurred in a resupply mission to Second Thomas Shoal, damaging the Philippine Coast Guard patrol vessel BRP Cabra and civilian resupply boat M/L Kalavaan. Despite challenges, one resupply boat managed to reach Second Thomas Shoal.
The National Task Force for the West Philippine Sea expressed doubt about China's goodwill, questioning the sincerity of its calls for peaceful dialogue. International partners, including the U.S., Japan, and Australia, expressed concern and support.
Philippine Senate President Juan Zubiri urged President BongBong Marcos Jr. to recall the Chinese Ambassador, criticizing China's actions. In response, President Marcos condemned China's aggression, stating that the events strengthened the country's resolve to defend its sovereignty in the West Philippine Sea.
Chinese Navy: “No one is allowed to encroach upon China's territorial sea, not even an inch!”
The Chinese People's Liberation Army Navy (PLA-N) recently released a new promotional video emphasizing territorial claims over seas, including the South China Sea and the Taiwan Straits. This video marks a departure from previous ones that primarily highlighted military equipment and capabilities. It focuses on asserting China's sovereignty over specific maritime territories in a more jingoistic tone.
"No one is allowed to encroach upon China's territorial sea, not even an inch! China's territorial sea brooks no encroachment. The Chinese PLA Navy has the resolve, confidence and ability to expel all incoming enemies!” the PLA-N said in a statement accompanying the video.