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For “Humanitarian Reasons,” China Doesn’t Block Philippine Resupply of Grounded Warship in Disputed Waters

On August 7, China blocked two Philippine supply vessels from unloading supplies at the Second Thomas Shoal in the South China Sea. China blocked the supply vessels by firing water cannons at them. The vessels were supposed to deliver supplies to soldiers stationed on a Philippine warship BRP Sierra Madra that has been grounded at the atoll since 1999. Both China and the Philippines claim sovereignty over the Spratly Island area where the Second Thomas Shoal is located.

On August 22, the Philippines sent resupply ships to the shoal again. This time, China didn’t stop them.

Following the event, Xinhua published a statement by the Spokesman of Chinese Coast Guard Bureau: “On August 22, two Philippine supply vessels and two [Philippine] marine police vessels entered the waters adjacent to the Second Thomas Island in the Spratly Islands area without the permission from the Chinese Government. In accordance with the law, the Chinese Marine Police gave the Philippine vessels a stern warning, followed them throughout their entire journey, and effectively restrained them. At the same time, in view of the fact that the Philippine vessels were not carrying large-scale building materials, the Chinese Marine Police made a temporary special arrangement for humanitarian reasons, allowing the Philippine vessels to transport food and other living necessities to the military vessels stranded on the beach. China has indisputable sovereignty over the Spratly Islands and their adjacent waters, including the Second Thomas Island. China firmly opposes the Philippines using the excuse of “resupply” to deliver illegal building materials to the illegally-grounded warship. The Chinese Maritime Police will continue to protect China’s rights and carry out law-enforcement activities in the waters under China’s jurisdiction in accordance with the law.”

Source: Xinhua, August 22, 2023