Philippine and Chinese ships collide in the South China Sea

Philippine ships in the South China Sea / Photo EPA-EFE/FRANCIS R. MALASIG

A Philippine ship collided lightly with a Chinese ship in the South China Sea, China's coast guard said. The incident happened today in the waters near the second Thomas Shoal in the Spratly Islands.

Beijing has claims to almost the entire South China Sea. Parts of the region are disputed by Taiwan, the Philippines and several other Southeast Asian countries.

Trillions of dollars in shipping trade pass through the South China Sea every year, and oil and gas deposits are believed to lie beneath the bottom of the South China Sea.

China's coast guard accused the Philippine ship of "illegally navigating the sea near Renai Reef in China's Nansha Islands," using Beijing's official term for the Spratly Islands.

"The Philippine replenishment ship ignored many warnings from the Chinese side. He approached the Chinese ship in an unprofessional manner, which led to a collision. The Chinese Coast Guard has taken control measures against the Philippine vessel in accordance with the law," the Chinese Coast Guard announced.

China previously warned the Philippines not to enter its territorial waters and issued new rules that took effect on June 15.

Under the new rules, China's coast guard is authorized to use lethal force against foreign vessels in waters claimed by Beijing and detain violators without trial for 60 days.

Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos called the measures a "very worrying escalation". Manila accused the Chinese Coast Guard of "barbaric and inhumane behavior" towards Philippine ships. On Friday, the G7 criticized what it called dangerous Chinese incursions into the South China Sea.

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