China accuses Philippines of illegal landing in South China sea atoll amidst territorial dispute

A Philippine vessel is accused by China of making an illegal landing on an atoll in the disputed Spratly Islands. Territorial conflicts between surrounding countries worsen as tensions in the South China Sea escalate.

China has accused a small civilian Philippine vessel of illegally landing on the shore of an atoll that is claimed by both countries in the continuing South China Sea territorial dispute. According to a statement released by the China Coast Guard on the Weixin social media site, the event occurred on Friday on the Spratly Islands atoll.

The Philippine vessel was in the area for supply, according to the China Coast Guard. As of Saturday, the National Security Council, the foreign ministry, and the Coast Guard of the Philippines have not responded to demands for comment.

This is not the first instance of its like; in 1999, a World War II ship that was grounded at the Second Thomas Shoal—known as Ayungin in the Philippines and Renai Reef in China—was manned by a small contingent of troops from the Philippines. To support the Philippines’ claim of sovereignty over the region, troops are being stationed on the ship.

Manila has firmly rejected China’s efforts to have the grounded vessel hauled away last year, despite Beijing’s complaints and tensions. The two Asian countries’ already complex territorial conflicts have become even more convoluted as a result of this particular debate.

China claims nearly the whole South China Sea region as its own, along with territories that are also claimed by Vietnam, the Philippines, Malaysia, Brunei, and Indonesia. Beijing first disagreed with the Permanent Court of Arbitration’s 2016 ruling, which declared China’s claims to be without legal standing.

Geopolitical tensions have been centred on the South China Sea, where multiple countries have staked claims to the strategically significant and resource-rich waters. Long-standing conflicts in the region have been escalated by the recent incident with the Philippines’ warship, which raises concerns about the possibility of further friction between countries with competing interests in the South China Sea.