Second Thomas Shoal Tensions Intensify


The U.S. has criticized China for provoking the Philippines in the Second Thomas Shoal even as Manila air-lifted supplies to its marines stationed on the disputed reef.

On Sunday, Chinese coast guard vessels blocked two Filipino civilian vessels from resupplying marines located on the Second Thomas Shoal, which the Philippines calls the Ayungin Shoal and China refers to as the Ren’ai Reef.

A military hospital ship ran aground near the Second Thomas Shoal in 1999 and since then Filipino troops have been stationed on the vessel at all times as a symbol of the Philippines claims to the territory, which lies just 105 nautical miles from the Philippines. For some time now, Chinese coast guard vessels have guarded the approach to the Philippines ship, which has prompted Manila to start using civilian vessels to resupply the ships instead of naval assets.

Earlier this week, the Philippine Department of Foreign Affairs put out a statement criticizing China’s blocking of the resupply vessels. “Ayungin Shoal is part of the continental shelf of the Philippines and therefore, the Philippines is entitled to exercise sovereignty rights and jurisdiction in the area without the permission of other states,” the DFA said in a statement, according to the Associated Press.

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