Philippine, Chinese Coast Guard Vessels Collide Again in South China Sea

Tensions remain high over disputed reefs, and the US has vowed to intervene if the maritime dispute turns hot

China and the Philippines are trading blame for the latest collision between Chinese and Philippine vessels in the South China Sea as tensions remain high over disputed reefs in the waters.

The collision occurred on Tuesday morning near Second Thomas Shoal, and four Filipino crew members were injured. The Philippines uses a grounded ship on Second Thomas Shoal as a base for operations in the region, and China often blocks resupply shipments to the vessel.

The maritime dispute risks sparking a major war since the US has repeatedly warned China that the US-Philippine Mutual Defense Treaty applies to attacks on Philippine vessels in the South China Sea, meaning the US is threatening it would intervene if the dispute turns hot.

After the collision, a spokesman for the Chinese Coast Guard said Manila “violated its commitments and deliberately sent two coastguard ships and two supply ships.”

Map showing overlapping claims in the South China Sea

“The Philippines is dishonest in its dialogue, deliberately stirs up trouble, maliciously incites and sensationalizes, and continues to undermine peace and stability in the South China Sea region,” the spokesman added, according to The South China Morning Post.

In response, a spokesman for the Philippine Coast Guard said their vessels “faced dangerous maneuvers and blocking” and said China’s “reckless and illegal actions led to a collision.”

Tensions between China and the Philippines have soared since Philippine President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. came into power in 2022. He has taken a harder line against China’s claims to the South China Sea than his predecessor, Rodrigo Duterte, and has been emboldened by the US, which is beefing up its military presence in the Philippines and stepping up patrols in the South China Sea.

Author: Dave DeCamp

Dave DeCamp is the news editor of, follow him on Twitter @decampdave.