Manila: The Philippines air-dropped food and water to soldiers posted on a grounded transport ship on a disputed South China Sea shoal, after China blocked two supply ships from reaching the troops, a senior navy official said on Wednesday.
Chinese ships patrolling waters around Second Thomas Shoal, known in China as the Ren’ai reef, on Sunday ordered the Philippine ships carrying construction materials to leave the area.
Beijing claims Manila is trying to start construction on the disputed reef after it ran aground an old transport ship in 1999 to mark its territory and stationed marines on the ship. Manila claims the Shoal is part of the Philippines’ continental shelf.
“We only intend to improve the conditions there, we have no plans to expand or build permanent structures on the shoal,” said a Philippines navy official, who declined to be identified because he was not authorised to speak to the press.
“On Monday, we sent a navy Islander plane to drop food and water, but it will only last a few days. We really have to send back the civilian boats. Since last year, we’ve been resupplying our troops using civilian ships to avoid confrontation and this was the first time China blocked them.”
Read more: http://www.smh.com.au/world/manila-airdrops-supplies-to-troops-on-disputed-south-china-sea-reef-20140313-hvi05.html#ixzz2voeQeNmk