After promising to back down, China has been accused of ‘harassment’ in the South China Sea.
Three days after Beijing vowed not to interfere with plans to restock a Philippine-controlled shoal in the Spratly Islands, the Philippines has accused China of continuous “harassment” in the South China Sea.
On November 23, a small number of Philippine Marines was successfully resupplied with food and other resources, according to Philippine Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana, who spoke to the Philippine Daily Inquirer on Wednesday.
As two wooden-hulled boats arrived at Second Thomas Shoal at 11 a.m. on Tuesday, Vice Adm. Ramil Roberto Enriquez, who oversees the Philippines’ Western Command, told the Inquirer that “no untoward occurrence” occurred.
Lorenzana told the newspaper that while the supplies were being unloaded at BRP Sierra Madre—a World War II-era naval vessel that was deliberately grounded on the reef to serve as a Philippine outpost in 1999—a China Coast Guard vessel sent a three-man crew in a rubber dinghy to take photos and videos.
Lorenzana was cited as saying, “I have stated to the Chinese ambassador that we consider these activities to be a form of intimidation and harassment.”
Manila’s defense chief claimed earlier this week that China’s top ambassador, Huang Xilian, had assured him on Sunday that Chinese ships “would not meddle.”
“We will see if they are true to their word as our Navy will proceed with the replenishment this week,” he added cautiously.
Following a standoff near the South China Sea feature known as Ayungin Shoal, Manila pledged not to meddle after many days of discussion. Three Chinese coast guard ships blockaded Philippine supply boats on November 16 and blasted water cannons at the smaller vessels, causing the mission to be canceled.
Two days later, Philippine Foreign Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. filed a strong diplomatic protest, using the Philippines-United States Mutual Defense Treaty, which covers attacks on Philippine ships in the disputed South China Sea.
On Friday, the US State Department reaffirmed its treaty commitments to the Philippines.
Second Thomas Shoal, also known as Ren’ai Jiao in China, is located in the West Philippine Sea, which is Manila’s moniker for the eastern region of the South China Sea within the Philippine exclusive economic zone.
By declaring jurisdiction over every feature in the South China Sea, China claims practically all of it. This is a condensed version of the information.