Chinese Coast Guard vessels harassed two Philippine government vessels on a supply mission to Ayungin Shoal in the West Philippine Sea on Tuesday, a statement released by Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. said.
Locsin, in a statement released early Thursday by the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) and citing a report by the Philippine armed forces’ Western Command (WESCOM), said the Chinese vessels “blocked and water cannoned” two Philippine supply boats while they were en route to the remote military outpost on November 16.
Locsin said the Philippines has already filed a diplomatic protest to Beijing about the incident and warned that the incident could trigger the country’s defense treaty with the United States.
“I have conveyed in the strongest terms to H.E. Huang Xilian, Ambassador of China, and to the Minister of Foreign Affairs in Beijing our outrage, condemnation, and protest of the incident,” Locsin said.
“I reminded China that a public vessel is covered by the Philippine-United States Mutual Defense Treaty,” he added.
Locsin said Beijing’s failure to exercise self-restraint is a threat to the special relationship between the country and China, which President Rodrigo R. Duterte and President Xi Jin Ping have worked hard to nurture.
“The Philippines will continue to provide supplies to our troops in Ayungin Shoal (Second Thomas Shoal). We do not ask permission to do what we need to do in our territory,” Locsin said.
Manila has repeatedly protested Chinese actions against Philippine interests in the disputed area. According to the DFA, it filed some 211 notes verbales filed over Chinese actions in the South China Sea since the start of the Duterte administration.