Chinese Coast Guard Boards Supply Boats, Injures Soldiers From the Philippines

AP Photo/Bullit Marquez, File

China has once again escalated the conflict between itself and the Philippines in the South China Sea. During a resupply mission at Second Thomas Shoal on Monday, Chinese boats, surrounded and then boarded a resupply boat belonging to the Philippines, threatening and injuring several Filipino soldiers. They also took rifles and put holes in two rigid inflatable boats belonging to the Philippines. A general in the the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) described China's behavior as piracy.


AFP chief General Romeo Brawner Jr. said the standoff, the latest in a series of escalations in the disputed waterway, marked the first time Filipino troops encountered Chinese coast guard members armed with bladed weapons like bolos, knives, and spears, which they allegedly used to pierce through Philippine Navy boats. “We saw in the video how the Chinese even threatened our personnel by pointing their knives,” Brawner said.

Brawner said the AFP demands that Beijing return the disassembled rifles. “We are also demanding from them to pay for the damages that they have caused,” he added. “For me, this is piracy already… Because they boarded our boats illegally. They got our equipment. Again, based on their actions, it’s like they are pirates.”

This shows three Chinese boats surrounding one boat belonging to the Philippines.

As you can see in these photos, the Chinese not only punctured the boat's inflatable hull, they destroyed it. Smashing all the glass in the cockpit. Also note the last photo showing the Chinese were all armed with knives.


There is some video of the incident.

One Filipino soldier was seriously injured during the boarding.

Eight Philippine navy personnel reportedly sustained injuries, though the military has only confirmed one victim: a sailor whose right thumb got severed after the China Coast Guard reportedly rammed the Philippine boats.

“Because of the speed, the forward portion of the China Coast Guard’s RHIB [rigid-hull inflatable boat] landed on top of our troop’s RHIB, and unfortunately our troop’s hand was there,” Torres said. “It’s a relief that it wasn’t the whole hand.”

Naturally, China shrugged off complaints about the behavior of its Coast Guard.

The Chinese coast guard gave a different version of the hostilities and said the Philippines “is entirely responsible for this.” It said a Philippine vessel “ignored China’s repeated solemn warnings … and dangerously approached a Chinese vessel in normal navigation in an unprofessional manner, resulting in a collision.”

China’s Foreign Ministry said the supply ship was accompanied by two Philippine speedboats that were attempting to deliver construction materials and other supplies to the BRP Sierra Madre. It described the Chinese coast guard’s actions as “professional, restrained, reasonable and lawful.”


As I described here, China recently instituted a new law giving its Coast Guard the right to board and seize foreign ships and detain individuals for up to 60 days if it considers them to be infringing on Chinese territory. And since China considers almost the entire South China Sea its territory that means they are legally allowed to do this anywhere. The law went into effect last Saturday, two days before this incident.

Hu Xijin, who has long been a kind of unofficial media spokesperson for China, covered the incident and claimed that the heightened aggression of the Chinese Coast Guard was in fact guided by the new law.

Hu went on to threaten the US against getting involved in the conflict.


At this point the Philippines has to make a choice about whether it wants to escalate and match China's belligerence at sea or simply back down and cede the territory. Either way, there will be a price to pay.

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