US knocks ‘aggressive’ China after collision with Philippine ship

The United States condemned China for “aggressive, dangerous maneuvers” in the disputed South China Sea on Monday after a Chinese vessel collided with a Philippine supply ship, the latest in a series of escalatory confrontations in the region.

China and the Philippines blamed each other for the collision, which took place Monday near the Second Thomas Shoal in the contested Spratly Islands. The Philippines and the United States say the area is part of the Philippine’s exclusive economic zone, but the People’s Republic of China (PRC) claims sovereignty over the territory.

“The [U.S.] condemns the PRC’s aggressive, dangerous maneuvers near Ayungin (Second Thomas) Shoal, which caused bodily injury, damaged Philippine vessels, and hindered lawful maritime operations to supply food, water, and essential supplies to personnel within the [Philippine] exclusive economic zone,” Ambassador to the Philippines MaryKay Carlson said early Monday in a statement on the social platform X.

“We stand by our allies in support of a #FreeAndOpenIndoPacific,” Carlson added.

The State Department doubled down on its support for the Philippines and reaffirmed its commitment to a 1951 treaty that, spokesperson Matthew Miller said, “extends to armed attacks on Philippine armed forces, public vessels, or aircraft — including those of its Coast Guard — anywhere in the South China Sea.”

“The United States stands with its ally the Philippines and condemns the escalatory and irresponsible actions by the People’s Republic of China (PRC) to deny the Philippines from lawfully delivering humanitarian supplies to service members stationed at the BRP Sierra Madre on June 17,” Miller said in a statement.

Miller also condemned the Chinese ships’ “dangerous and deliberate use of water cannons, ramming, blocking maneuvers, and towing damaged Philippine vessels,” which he said is dangerous, “reckless” and “threatens regional peace and stability.”

Deputy Secretary of State Kurt Campbell reiterated the commitment to the 1951 treaty in a call with Philippine Undersecretary of Foreign Affairs Maria Theresa Lazaro, Miller said in a readout of their call, in which the officials discussed China’s “escalatory and irresponsible actions” Monday and “agreed that the PRC’s dangerous actions threatened regional peace and stability.”

Miller added that they “further reiterated the critical importance of the United States-Philippines alliance to maintaining our shared vision for a free and open Indo-Pacific region.”

The latest escalation comes amid heightened concerns about the potential for a larger confrontation in the region, as Washington-Beijing relations become increasingly tense.

The Chinese coast guard blamed the Philippines for the confrontation, The Associated Press reported, saying the nation “is entirely responsible for this” and that the vessel “ignored China’s repeated solemn warnings … and dangerously approached a Chinese vessel in normal navigation in an unprofessional manner, resulting in a collision.”

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