Chinese maritime forces have escalated tensions in the South China Sea, damaging three Philippine vessels and using water cannons and acoustic devices against Filipino fishermen. In two separate incidents since Friday, the China Coast Guard and Maritime Militia obstructed Filipino fishermen’s resupply efforts near Scarborough Shoal, causing equipment damage and temporary incapacitation of the crew. Beijing has intensified its presence at Scarborough Shoal, deploying barriers and chasing off Filipino fishermen, in addition to harassing a Philippine marine detachment at Second Thomas Shoal.
During the latest resupply mission, the Philippine Coast Guard patrol vessel BRP Cabra and the civilian boat M/L Kalavaan were damaged, with Kalavaan’s engines knocked out, requiring towing back to Palawan. Amidst these provocations, one Philippine resupply boat managed to deliver its cargo to Second Thomas Shoal, despite previous ramming incidents. The National Task Force for the West Philippine Sea has questioned China’s sincerity in resolving South China Sea disputes, and international partners like the U.S., Japan, and Australia have expressed support for the Philippines. Domestically, Philippine President Marcos Jr. condemned China’s actions, reaffirming his commitment to defending national sovereignty in the West Philippine Sea.