Dangerous Waters

Pentagon officials have briefed the media on an incident in the South China Sea that caused serious injury to a Filipino sailor.  This occurred when a Chinese vessel blocked the path of an Armed Forces of the Phillippines (AFP) craft during her mission to resupply the BRP Sierra Madre.

A statement from a spokesman from the Office of the US Secretary of Defense states that the man was hurt because of “PRC vessels’ dangerous and deliberate use of water cannons, ramming and blocking maneuvers.” The Phillippine military called the incident an “intentional high-speed ramming.” Not surprisingly, the Chinese say the Phillippine supply ship is to blame.

The Bangkok Post reports that the Filipino sailor lost a finger in the incident and had to be evacuated from the scene for further treatment of his wounds.  Numerous other sailors report bumps and bruises.

This is, unfortunately, not an isolated incident. It is the third occurrence of Filipinos being injured by Chinese forces during a resupply mission to the Sierra Madre, the isolated Marine Outpost at Second Thomas Shoal.  The first occurred in March and injured four seamen.

US Condemns Chinese Aggression in South China Sea, Reaffirms Support for Philippines

As part of the US response, the Pentagon statement reads in part:

“We stand with our Philippine allies and condemn the escalatory and irresponsible actions by the PRC to deny the Philippines from executing a lawful maritime operation in the South China Sea.”

Tensions are particularly high due to the fact that the US and Phillippines have a mutual defense pact. Our State Department reiterates:

“The United States reaffirms that Article IV of the 1951 U.S.-Philippines Mutual Defense Treaty extends to armed attacks on Philippine armed forces, public vessels, or aircraft – including those of its Coast Guard – anywhere in the South China Sea.”




China asserts its claim over almost the entire South China Sea, encompassing territories also claimed by the Philippines, Taiwan, Indonesia, Brunei, and Malaysia. Annually, the region generates over $3 trillion in commerce.

Addressing the “China problem” in the region, Phillippine President Marcos stated in May that the death of any of his citizens caused by the Chinese in the South China Sea would be crossing what he called a “red line.” Marcos elaborated by saying:

“If a Filipino citizen was killed by a wilful act, that is very close to what we define as an act of war.”

For now, the world watches and waits with a close eye to the activities in the South China Sea.

For ongoing updates and more detailed analysis, follow SOFREP.

Disclaimer: SOFREP utilizes AI for image generation and article research. Occasionally, it’s like handing a chimpanzee the keys to your liquor cabinet. It’s not always perfect and if a mistake is made, we own up to it full stop. In a world where information comes at us in tidal waves, it is an important tool that helps us sift through the brass for live rounds.