This incident marks an escalation in the ongoing territorial disputes near the Second Thomas Shoal, a submerged reef claimed by both countries but controlled by the Philippines.

Chinese and Philippine vessels have frequently clashed in this area, often resulting in collisions. However, any attempt by China to tow away a Philippine ship could be seen as a significant escalation.

The United States, which has a mutual defense agreement with the Philippines, condemned China's "escalatory and irresponsible actions." Washington emphasized that these actions were aimed at preventing the Philippines from delivering humanitarian supplies to its personnel stationed on the BRP Sierra Madre, a warship grounded on the shoal since 1999.

U.S. State Department spokesman Matthew Miller criticized China's use of water cannons, ramming, blocking maneuvers, and towing of damaged Philippine vessels. He described these actions as reckless and a threat to regional peace and stability. Miller also reaffirmed the U.S. commitment to its 1951 mutual defense treaty with the Philippines, extending protection to Philippine armed forces, public vessels, and aircraft in the South China Sea.

The Philippine military condemned China's recent actions as "illegal, aggressive, and reckless." They accused Chinese vessels of endangering the lives of Philippine personnel and damaging their boats, violating international law. The clash occurred during a routine resupply mission to the garrison, and the Philippine military praised its personnel for showing restraint and professionalism.

China Now Escalates Tensions in Vietnam’s Waters China Now Escalates Tensions in Vietnam’s Waters

China's Coast Guard claimed that a Philippine supply ship had "deliberately collided" with Chinese vessels. They stated that they had taken "control measures" such as warnings, interceptions, boarding, inspections, and forced evictions of Philippine vessels in accordance with Chinese law.

The Second Thomas Shoal has become a hotspot in the strategic waterway, which China claims almost entirely under its "nine-dash line." This claim overlaps with those of Taiwan, Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei, Indonesia, and the Philippines. The frequent clashes between China and the Philippines have raised fears of a larger conflict that could involve the U.S. and other nations.

Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. recently warned Beijing that if a Philippine citizen were deliberately killed in a clash, it would be close to an act of war. The latest confrontation resulted in injuries to Philippine personnel, further escalating tensions.

China has accused the Philippines of using resupply missions to bring construction materials to the outpost on the Sierra Madre, aiming to make it a permanent facility and strengthen its claim to the area.

This incident occurred shortly after new China Coast Guard regulations took effect, allowing the detention of foreign nationals suspected of trespassing in Chinese-claimed waters for up to 60 days. Beijing's state-run China Daily warned Manila that it risks severe consequences, stating that China's restraint has its limits.