Philippine Secretary of Defense Delfin Lorenzana yesterday accused the Chinese coast guard of “intimidation and harassment” after Philippine navy personnel were filmed and photographed unloading goods in the disputed South China Sea.
Tensions over the resource-rich waters have spiked in the past week after Chinese coast guard vessels fired water cannons at Philippine boats delivering supplies to marines at Second Thomas Shoal (Renai Shoal, 仁愛暗沙) in the disputed Spratly Islands (Nansha Islands, 南沙群島).
Manila expressed outrage over the attack, which forced the Philippine boats to abort their mission.
Beijing said the vessels had entered its waters without permission.
China claims almost all of the waterway, through which trillions of dollars in trade passes annually, with competing claims from Taiwan, Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines and Vietnam.
Beijing has ignored a 2016 ruling by The Hague-based Permanent Court of Arbitration that its historical claim is without basis.
Two civilian boats manned by Philippine navy personnel yesterday made another attempt to reach the shoal and arrived “without any untoward incident,” Lorenzana said.
However, three people in a rubber boat deployed by a nearby Chinese coast guard vessel took photographs and videos as “personnel and cargo” were unloaded from the vessels, he said.
“I have communicated to the Chinese ambassador that we consider these acts as a form of intimidation and harassment,” he added.
The Chinese embassy in Manila did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
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