A Philippine government ship slipped past a Chinese coast guard vessel Saturday and brought food and fresh troops to a marooned navy ship used as a base by Filipino troops to bolster the country’s territorial claims in the disputed South China Sea.
The incident was witnessed by journalists who were invited by the Philippines military to accompany the resupply mission.
It was a rare close-up look at the tensions in the waters and the determination of all sides to press their claims. China‘s growing assertiveness is alarming smaller nations that have competing territorial claims and worrying the United States, which is neutral in the disputes but jockeying for influence with Beijing in the region.
About one hour away from Second Thomas Shoal, where the detachment is based, a Chinese coast guard ship marked “1141″ twice crossed the bow of the smaller Philippine vessel in an attempt to stop it from proceeding. Another tailed the Filipino boat.
The Chinese radioed the Filipinos, telling them to stop. “You will take full responsibility for the consequences of your action,” the voice said in English.