Philippines-China relations

Again, China tries to block Philippine resupply mission to Ayungin 

Bea Cupin

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Again, China tries to block Philippine resupply mission to Ayungin 

AYUNGIN MISSION. Chinese ships surround a Philippine Coast Guard ship on a resupply mission to Ayungin Shoal on September 28, 2023.

Philippine Coast Guard

Video from the Philippine Coast Guard shows Chinese ships sailing dangerously close to Philippine vessels

MANILA, Philippines – Just a day after Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. decried the “dangerous use of coast guard and maritime militia vessels in the South China Sea” before world leaders, Chinese vessels on Friday, September 8, tried to block Philippine boats en route to Ayungin Shoal to bring supplies for Filipino Marines stationed onboard the BRP Sierra Madre. 

Again, China tries to block Philippine resupply mission to Ayungin 

“There were attempts to block our RORE (rotation and reprovisioning) mission using China Coast Guard vessels (CCGV) and maritime militia that were prepositioned along their (RORE vessels) route to BRP Sierra Madre. At one instance, we saw how a CCGV conducted dangerous maneuvers in between our RORE vessel and the escorting PCG vessel, which is a very irresponsible and  unprofessional act,” said Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) spokesperson Colonel Medel Aguilar.

The AFP’s contracted resupply ships and the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) ships that escorted them completed the mission despite China’s harassment, said Aguilar. 

“This tactical operation is a manifestation of our firm resolve to assert our sovereign rights and jurisdiction in our maritime zones, and the fulfillment of our responsibility to look after the well being of our soldiers who are stationed not only in Ayungin Shoal, but in every remote post in the country. The unprofessional act and dangerous maneuvers conducted by the China Coast Guard and its maritime militia will never prevail over our conduct of legal and legitimate operations that support rules-based international order,” added Aguilar in a statement. 

According to PCG spokesperson for the West Philippine Sea Commodore Jay Tarriela, four Chinese Coast Guard and four Chinese maritime militia vessels tried to harass the PCG’s BRP Cabra and BRP Sindangan, as well as ships hired by the AFP. 

Footage released by Tarriela show Chinese Coast Guard ships and maritime militia vessels cruise dangerously close to PCG ships and resupply boats. One video shows Chinese boats surrounding a PCG vessel. 

Just a day prior, at the East Asia Summit (EAS) in Jakarta, Indonesia on September 7, Marcos said the Philippines was “concerned over consistent actions that are in violation of obligations under international law, including the 1982 UNCLOS, and under the DOC (Declaration of Conduct).” Marcos also called on members of the Association and Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) as well as their dialogue parters to “oppose the dangerous use of coast guard and maritime militia vessels in the South China Sea.”

The EAS is among the premiere events that takes place when ASEAN leaders converge for a summit. EAS bring together ASEAN members Indonesia, Lao PDR, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Brunei, and Cambodia, as well as dialogue partners China, the United States, Japan, South Korea, Australia, Russia, New Zealand and India.  

While Marcos did not say which nation had been flouting international law, he could only have been referring to China. 

Chinese vessels – both from their coast guard and maritime militia – has routinely harassed and tried to block Philippine ships on missions in the West Philippine Sea or parts of the South China Sea that’s part of Philippine territory. In early August 2023, Chinese ships harassed, tried to block, then doused water cannons at Philippine ships on a resupply mission to BRP Sierra, a decaying World War 2-era ship that serves as the Philippines’ outpost in the area. 

The Philippines filed a diplomatic protest over the water cannoning incident. Weeks later, China again tried to block a resupply mission. 

When Marcos spoke at the EAS in Jakarta, Chinese Premiere Li Qiang was in attendance. China has not reacted to Marcos’ intervention, or speech at the summit, but has wrongly insisted that Ayungin Shoal is theirs. China has a sweeping claim over practically the entire South China Sea, despite a 2016 arbitral that declared its 9-dash line invalid. The nine lines have since evolved into the 10-dash line in their 2023 standard map, which still claims most of the South China Sea but also encroaches on Taiwan. 

Despite condemnation from the Philippines and its allies, China has seemingly refused to relent. 

The South China Sea, where trillions in trade passes through yearly, was a focus of discussion at the 43rd ASEAN Summit in Jakarta. Several ASEAN members – the Philippines, Vietnam, Brunei, and Malaysia, have claims in the South China Sea, several of which overlap with China. Malaysia earlier filed a protest over the 2023 map. – 

1 comment

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  1. RL

    We need more ships for PH Navy and AFP as whole. Allocate bigger budget. This is where money should be invested, not in confidential intelligence funds. This one is not just “intertwined” but directly connected with national security and sovereignty. This should be our priority.

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Bea Cupin

Bea is a senior multimedia reporter who covers national politics. She's been a journalist since 2011 and has written about Congress, the national police, and the Liberal Party for Rappler.