Philippines-China relations

After Ayungin harassment, China tells PH: Prepare ‘to bear all potential consequences’

Bea Cupin

This is AI generated summarization, which may have errors. For context, always refer to the full article.

After Ayungin harassment, China tells PH: Prepare ‘to bear all potential consequences’

INCIDENT. Chinese ships encircle a Philippine Coast Guard ship on March 23, 2024.

Philippine Coast Guard

(UPDATED) The Philippines, meanwhile, says it 'will not be deterred – by veiled threats or hostility – from exercising our legal rights'

MANILA, Philippines – Beijing on Saturday, March 23, warned Manila that it “should be prepared to bear all potential consequences” if it “insists on going its own way,” just hours after China Coast Guard (CCG) ships blocked, harassed, and used water cannons against Philippine vessels trying to bring personnel and supplies to the BRP Sierra Madre in Ayungin Shoal. 

The Sierra Madre, a World War II ship purposefully run aground in 1999, serves as a military outpost in Ayungin Shoal, also known as Second Thomas Shoal. It is located some 120 nautical miles off the coast of Palawan, which means it is well within the Philippines’ exclusive economic zone, referred to as the West Philippine Sea. 

China claims practically all of the South China Sea, including the West Philippine Sea, in defiance of a 2016 arbitral ruling that deemed its claim invalid. 

China’s foreign ministry spokesperson said the Philippines “[intruded] into the adjacent waters of Ren’ai Jiao of China’s Nansha Qundao” – their names for Ayungin Shoal and the Spratlys. 

“China Coast Guard took necessary measures at sea to safeguard our rights, firmly obstructed the Philippines’ vessels, and foiled the Philippines’ attempt,” the ministry spokesperson said in a statement for media. 

By “firmly obstructed,” Beijing was referring to the use of dangerous maneuvers at sea, including at least one instance where a CCG ship sailed in reverse in an attempt to block the Unaizah May 4, a civilian ship that the Navy uses to bring supplies and troops to the BRP Sierra Madre. CCG vessels also used water cannons against the Unaizah May 4, the same wooden vessel it damaged during a resupply mission earlier in March. 

The Philippines’ National Task Force for the West Philippine Sea (NTF-WPS) said China’s use of water cannons caused “severe damage to the vessel and injuries to Filipinos onboard.”

China, however, did not exactly “foil” the Philippine mission. Although the resupply ship was damaged, troops and essential supplies still made it to the BRP Sierra Madre after rigid-hulled inflatable boats were deployed by the grounded Navy ship.  

“Nansha Qundao and its adjacent waters, including Ren’ai Jiao, have always been China’s territory. This is established in the long course of history, and complies with international law,” said the Chinese foreign ministry.  

“The Philippines should immediately stop its infringement and provocation and refrain from undermining peace and stability in the South China Sea. If the Philippines insists on going its own way, China will continue to adopt resolute measures to safeguard its territorial sovereignty and maritime rights and interests. The Philippines should be prepared to bear all potential consequences,” it added. 

In an earlier statement, the CCG’s spokesperson Gan Yu also warned the Philippines against “playing with fire.”

“We warn the Philippines that playing with fire is an invitation of disgrace, and the China Coast Guard is ready at all times to defend the country’s territorial sovereignty and maritime rights and interests,” the CCG’s spokesperson had said.

Several countries and blocs – including Manila’s treaty ally United States, as well as Japan, the European Union, the United Kingdom, and Australia, among others – expressed concern over what was only the latest harassment of Philippine ships at the hands of the Chinese.

In a statement issued after the mission had wrapped up, the NTF-WPS slammed China for its “latest acts of unprovoked aggression, coercion, and dangerous maneuvers against a legitimate and routine Philippine RORE (rotation and resupply) mission to Ayungin Shoal.”

“The systematic and consistent manner in which the PRC continues to carry out these illegal and irresponsible actions belies its hollow claims to peace, dialogue, and adherence to international law,” the task force added. 

The NTF-WPS said National Security Adviser Eduardo Año wants to convene a meeting with Executive Secretary Lucas Bersamin and the National Security Cluster “for purposes of making recommendations to the President.”

“The actions of the agents of the PRC today in the waters of the Philippine Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) show to the Filipino people, the region, and the world that the PRC recognizes no reasonable or legal restraint nor limitation upon its actions under international law. The Philippines shall continue to act peacefully and responsibly, consistent with international law, particularly UNCLOS and the legally binding 2016 Arbitral Award,” the task force, composed of representatives from different Philippine government agencies, said. 

“The Philippines will not be deterred – by veiled threats or hostility – from exercising our legal rights over our maritime zones, including Ayungin Shoal, which forms part of our EEZ and continental shelf. We demand that China demonstrate in deeds and not in words that it is a responsible and trustworthy member of the international community,” it added. 

In a statement on Monday, March 25, DFA spokesperson Teresita Daza said the department “remains committed to take all appropriate diplomatic actions to protest the violation of the Philippine sovereign rights and jurisdiction and violations of international law, particularly UNCLOS.” –

Add a comment

Sort by

There are no comments yet. Add your comment to start the conversation.

Summarize this article with AI

How does this make you feel?

Download the Rappler App!
Avatar photo


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.