The Philippines says its coast guard ship and supply boat were attacked by Chinese vessels near the disputed shoal.

They did not say whether there were injuries or damage in the two incidents at Thomas Shoal, the second of which was immediately condemned by the Philippines’ longtime treaty ally, the United States. The Philippine government also „strongly” condemned the latest clash and called it a violation of Manila’s sovereignty.

Despite repeated radio warnings, the Philippine ships „trespassed” in Chinese waters „without authority,” the Chinese coast guard said, prompting its ships to stop them. It accused Philippine ships of causing the collisions.

„The conduct of the Philippine side seriously violates international rules for avoiding conflicts at sea and threatens the navigational safety of our ships,” the Chinese coast guard said in a statement posted on its website.

He used the initials of China’s formal name, the People’s Republic of China, and the Philippines’ name for the second Thomas Shoal. He added that Washington stands with its allies to defend Philippine sovereignty and support a free and open Indo-Pacific region.

A Philippine government task force said the clashes occurred when two Philippine supply boats accompanied by two Philippine Coast Guard vessels went to deliver food and other supplies to the atoll, defying a years-long Chinese blockade.

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The task force said it „condemns the recent dangerous, reckless and illegal actions of the Chinese Coast Guard and Chinese maritime militia this morning in violation of Philippine sovereignty, sovereign rights and jurisdiction.”

The Philippine task force said the actions of the Chinese vessels were in „total disregard of the Charter of the United Nations, the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea” and international norms for preventing maritime conflicts. and the Departments of State, Army, National Security Council, and Coast Guard.

Clashes were frequent as Philippine ships continued to supply supplies to the Philippine navy and sailors stationed on the disputed shore. But this is the first time Philippine officials have reported that their country’s ships have been attacked by Chinese ships.

In the first incident on Sunday morning, the task force report said, „Dangerous interception maneuvers by Chinese Coast Guard vessel 5203 caused it to collide with the armed forces of the Philippines-contracted domestic resupply vessel Unisa May 2.” It said the „provocative, reckless and illegal action” by the Chinese coast guard vessel „undermined the safety of the crew”.

The Chinese coast guard gave a different version and said the Philippine supply boat had deliberately crossed its ship’s ramp while it was on a routine law enforcement patrol, causing a „minor skirmish”.

Separately, the Philippine Coast Guard ship PRB Capra „collided with the Chinese maritime combatant vessel 00003 while lying” northeast of the second Thomas Shoal on the left side, the report said.

The Chinese coast guard said the Philippine ship „deliberately provoked trouble” by reversing its course, causing its stern to collide with the Chinese ship and „inflaming the situation at the scene.”

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Despite the Chinese Coast Guard blockade, one of the two Philippine Navy manned boats was able to pass the Chinese ships and deliver supplies to a small group stationed aboard the long-lived but still active frigate BRP Sierra Madre. Force said.

It is the latest flare-up in long-running territorial disputes in the South China Sea, one of the world’s busiest trade routes. Conflicts involving China, the Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia, Taiwan and Brunei are seen as a potential flash point and have become subtle faults in the US-China rivalry in the region.

In early August, a Chinese coast guard vessel used water cannon on one of two Philippine supply boats to prevent the second from approaching Thomas Shoal. The move, caught on video, infuriated President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. and prompted the Department of Foreign Affairs in Manila to summon the Chinese ambassador and issue a strongly worded protest.

Washington reacted by renewing its warning that it was obligated to protect the Philippines as a treaty ally.

China’s Foreign Ministry has accused Washington of „threatening China” by raising the prospect of implementing the US-Philippines Mutual Defense Treaty. Beijing has repeatedly warned the US not to intervene in regional conflicts.

Later in August, the Philippines again deployed two boats that bypassed the Chinese Coast Guard blockade to deliver supplies to Philippine forces at the Second Thomas Shoal. However, two Philippine Coast Guard vessels escorted the supply boats, however, the Chinese Coast Guard vessels prevented them from maneuvering close to the sea. As the blockade dragged on for more than three hours, a US Navy surveillance plane flew in circles in support of the Philippine ships.

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A 2016 arbitral award set up under the 1982 UN Convention on the Law of the Sea invalidated Beijing’s claims to almost the entire South China Sea on historical grounds. China, which refused to participate in the arbitration requested by the Philippines, rejected the decision and continues to defy it.

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Associated Press reporter Huizhong Wu contributed to this report from Bangkok.

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