The Philippines says a Chinese warship entered an area it claims in the South China Sea and ran aground on a shoal, as tensions continue between the two nations over a separate territorial dispute.
Philippine Department of Foreign Affairs spokesman Raul Hernandez said yesterday that Manila wanted Beijing to explain why the Chinese frigate became stuck on Half Moon Shoal, about 110km from the western province of Palawan.
“We need to find out what really happened with the Chinese frigate in our territory,” Hernandez said.
He said the Philippine embassy in Beijing has been instructed to inform China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs that Manila is “willing to help the frigate get out of there.”
Philippine Department of Defense spokesman Peter Paul Galvez said a military aircraft spotted six other Chinese ships near the stricken vessel yesterday.
“We are seeking a clarification from the Chinese what these ships are doing in the area, though it can be assumed that these are out for rescue,” he said.
China’s foreign ministry said in a brief statement on its Web site that no one was injured when the accident occurred on Wednesday as the ship was patroling near the shoal.
Brigadier General Elmer Amon, deputy chief of the Philippine military’s Western Command, said the frigate appeared to be in distress and a coast guard vessel had moved within sight of the ship to provide any assistance.
He said the outcropping, called Hasa Hasa Shoal in the Philippines, is well within Manila’s territory.
Earlier this year, Manila and Beijing became locked in a tense months-long naval standoff at Scarborough Shoal (Huangyan Island, 黃岩島), another area claimed by both nations, as well as Taiwan, in the South China Sea, after the Philippines accused Chinese fishermen of poaching in its waters.