Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte’s government has accused a Chinese paramilitary vessel of ramming and sinking a Filipino fishing boat in the Reed Bank, an energy-rich and contested area in the South China Sea.
The collision, which reputedly took place on June 9, was officially acknowledged on Philippine Independence Day (June 12) and predictably sparked a new nationalistic backlash against China in the form of street protests.
More significantly, Manila’s uncharacteristically stern response to the incident promises to add new fuel to rising tensions in a hotly contested and strategically crucial maritime area that threatens to tip towards superpower conflict.
China claims the Reed Bank area as part of its expansive nine-dashed-line map, a wide-reaching claim that encompasses as much as 90% of the South China Sea. The feature is also included within the Philippines sovereign exclusive economic zone (EEZ).
To the chagrin of many Filipinos, the Chinese left the 22 Filipino crewmen in the