BRP SIERRA MADRE, a marooned transport ship which Philippine Marines live in as a military outpost, sits on the disputed Second Thomas Shoal, part of the Spratly Islands in the South China Sea. — REUTERS

A PHILIPPINE supply ship dangerously approached a Chinese vessel and collided with it after it illegally intruded into waters near Second Thomas Shoal in the South China Sea, the Chinese Coast Guard said on Monday.

The Philippine military said the Chinese claim was “deceptive and misleading.”

The resupply ship ignored China’s repeated warnings, its coast guard said in a statement. It did not mention any injuries or damage to either ship.

The Philippine Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) did not immediately reply to a request for comment from local journalists via WhatsApp.

“The Philippine replenishment ship ignored China’s repeated solemn warnings, violated the International Regulations for Preventing Collisions at Sea, and deliberately approached the Chinese ship in an unprofessional manner, causing a collision,” Beijing’s coast guard said.

“The responsibility lies entirely with the Philippines,” it added.

“We will not dignify the deceptive and misleading claims of the China Coast Guard (CCG),” Xerxes Trinidad, chief of the Armed Forces of the Philippines Public Affairs Office, told reporters.

He added that they would not discuss operational details of resupply missions. “The continued aggressive actions of the CCG are escalating tensions in the region.”

The main issue remains to be the illegal presence and actions of Chinese vessels within the Philippines’ exclusive economic zone (EEZ), the military said.

Philippine Coast Guard spokesman Jay Tristan Tarriela said the agency was not in a position to provide any details because it was not a coast guard operation.

Tensions between the Philippines and China have worsened in the past year as Beijing continues to block resupply missions to Second Thomas Shoal, where Manila grounded a World War II-era ship in 1999 to assert its sovereignty.

China’s coast guard has repeatedly used high-pressure water cannons to dissuade Philippine vessels from entering highly contested areas within the country’s exclusive economic zone including Scarborough Shoal and Second Thomas Shoal.

China claims almost the entire South China Sea, a conduit for more than $3 trillion of annual ship-borne commerce, including parts claimed by the Philippines, Vietnam, Indonesia, Malaysia and Brunei.

China had warned the Philippines about intruding into its territorial waters and the country has issued new rules, which went into effect on June 15, that would enforce a 2021 law allowing its coast guard to use lethal force against foreign ships in waters that it claims.

The new rules allow China’s coast guard to detain suspected trespassers without trial for 60 days.

The Group of Seven (G7) on Saturday called out China for its increasing use of dangerous maneuvers and water cannons against Philippine vessels. It opposed Chinese “intimidation activities” in the South China Sea.

In a communiqué after the G7 Summit in Apulia, Italy, the leaders of the powerful economic bloc raised concerns about the situation in the East and South China Seas, reiterating their “strong opposition to any unilateral attempt to change the status quo by force or coercion.”

Meanwhile, the Japan Maritime Self Defense Force’s destroyer ship JS Kirisame, together with counterparts from the Philippine Navy, US Navy and the Royal Canadian Navy affirmed their commitment to strengthen regional and international cooperation in support of a free and open Indo-Pacific region.

The three navies expressed the commitment during a multilateral maritime cooperative activity in the South China Sea on June 16, the Japanese Embassy in Manila said in a statement. — John Victor D. Ordoñez with Reuters