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Philippine officials say Chinese forces seized 2 navy boats in disputed shoal, injuring sailors

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Philippine officials say Chinese forces seized 2 navy boats in disputed shoal, injuring sailors
News

News

Philippine officials say Chinese forces seized 2 navy boats in disputed shoal, injuring sailors

2024-06-18 22:07 Last Updated At:22:10

MANILA, Philippines (AP) — Chinese forces seized two Philippine rubber boats that were delivering food and other supplies to a military outpost in a disputed South China Sea shoal in a tense confrontation in which some Filipino navy personnel were injured, Philippine security officials said Tuesday.

The United States renewed a warning Tuesday that it is obligated to defend the Philippines, a treaty ally, a day after the hourslong hostilities in Second Thomas Shoal. The shoal has been occupied by a small Philippine navy contingent aboard a long-grounded warship that has been closely monitored by China's coast guard and navy in a yearslong territorial standoff.

There is fear that territorial disputes in the South China Sea, long regarded as an Asian flashpoint, could escalate and pit the United States and China in a larger conflict. China and the Philippines blamed each other for Monday’s hostilities, the most serious in recent months, but provided few details.

A Philippine government task force overseeing the territorial disputes condemned what it said were “dangerous maneuvers, including ramming and towing” which disrupted an effort to transport food, water and other supplies to the Filipinos manning the territorial outpost on the grounded ship, the BRP Sierra Madre, at the shoal. It did not elaborate.

Two Philippine security officials, who had knowledge of the supply mission at the shoal, separately told The Associated Press that two rubber boats manned by Filipino navy personnel had approached the BRP Sierra Madre at the shoal to deliver fresh supplies when several Chinese coast guard personnel on speedboats arrived to disrupt the mission, sparking a scuffle and collisions.

At least eight of the Filipinos were injured, including one who lost a thumb, in the scuffle, said one of the two officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity because they were under orders not to discuss the high-seas confrontation publicly.

Five of the injured sailors were rescued by one of two Philippine coast guard patrol ships that were waiting at a distance to back up the navy’s supply mission at the shoal. The two rubber supply boats were towed away by Chinese coast guard personnel and then abandoned after being damaged and emptied of their contents, including an unspecified number of rifles, the two officials said. They were later recovered by the Filipino navy, they said.

The Chinese coast guard gave a different version of the hostilities and said the Philippines “is entirely responsible for this.” It said a Philippine vessel “ignored China’s repeated solemn warnings … and dangerously approached a Chinese vessel in normal navigation in an unprofessional manner, resulting in a collision."

China's Foreign Ministry said the supply ship was accompanied by two Philippine speedboats that were attempting to deliver construction materials and other supplies to the BRP Sierra Madre. It described the Chinese coast guard’s actions as “professional, restrained, reasonable and lawful."

U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Kurt Campbell discussed China’s actions with his Philippine counterpart, Maria Theresa Lazaro, in a telephone call. Both agreed that China’s “dangerous actions threatened regional peace and stability,” State Department spokesperson Matthew Miller said.

Campbell reaffirmed that the 1951 U.S.-Philippine Mutual Defense Treaty, which obligates Washington and Manila to help defend each other in major conflicts, “extends to armed attacks on Philippine armed forces, public vessels, or aircraft -– including those of its coast guard -– anywhere in the South China Sea,” according to Miller.

Philippine Defense Secretary Gilberto Teodoro Jr. said Monday night that his country’s armed forces would resist “China’s dangerous and reckless behavior” which “contravenes their statements of good faith and decency."

“We will exert our utmost in order to fulfill our sworn mandate to protect our territorial integrity, sovereignty, and sovereign rights,” Teodoro said. “It should now be clear to the international community that China’s actions are the true obstacles to peace and stability in the South China Sea.”

Several other incidents have occurred in recent months near Second Thomas Shoal, which is less than 200 nautical miles (370 kilometers) from the nearest Philippine coast and is where the BRP Sierra Madre, now encrusted with rust, was deliberately grounded in 1999 to create a territorial outpost. The ship remains an actively commissioned military vessel, meaning an attack on it could be considered by the Philippines as an act of war.

China has become increasingly assertive in pressing its claim to virtually the entire South China Sea, which has led to a rising number of direct conflicts with other countries in the region, most notably the Philippines and Vietnam.

A new Chinese law which took effect Saturday authorizes its coast guard to seize foreign ships “that illegally enter China’s territorial waters” and to detain foreign crews for up to 60 days. The law renewed a reference to 2021 legislation that says China’s coast guard can fire upon foreign ships if necessary.

Associated Press journalists Aaron Favila and Joeal Calupitan in Manila contributed to this report.

FILE - A dilapidated but still active Philippine Navy ship BRP Sierra Madre sits at the Second Thomas Shoal, locally known as Ayungin Shoal, at the disputed South China Sea on Aug. 22, 2023. The United States renewed a warning Tuesday, June 18, 2024 that it’s obligated to defend its close treaty ally a day after Filipino navy personnel were injured and their supply boats damaged in one of the most serious confrontations between the Philippines and China in a disputed shoal in the South China Sea, officials said. (AP Photo/Aaron Favila, File)

FILE - A dilapidated but still active Philippine Navy ship BRP Sierra Madre sits at the Second Thomas Shoal, locally known as Ayungin Shoal, at the disputed South China Sea on Aug. 22, 2023. The United States renewed a warning Tuesday, June 18, 2024 that it’s obligated to defend its close treaty ally a day after Filipino navy personnel were injured and their supply boats damaged in one of the most serious confrontations between the Philippines and China in a disputed shoal in the South China Sea, officials said. (AP Photo/Aaron Favila, File)

FILE - Philippine troops watch a Philippine coast guard ship as they secure an area at the Philippine-occupied Thitu island, locally called Pag-asa island, on Dec. 1, 2023, at the disputed South China Sea. China has been at odds with many other countries in the Asia-Pacific for years over its sweeping maritime claims, including almost all of the South China Sea, a strategic and resource-rich waterway around which Beijing has drawn a 10-dash-line on official maps to delineate what it says it its territory. (AP Photo/Aaron Favila, File)

FILE - Philippine troops watch a Philippine coast guard ship as they secure an area at the Philippine-occupied Thitu island, locally called Pag-asa island, on Dec. 1, 2023, at the disputed South China Sea. China has been at odds with many other countries in the Asia-Pacific for years over its sweeping maritime claims, including almost all of the South China Sea, a strategic and resource-rich waterway around which Beijing has drawn a 10-dash-line on official maps to delineate what it says it its territory. (AP Photo/Aaron Favila, File)

FILE - Philippine navy ship BRP Sierra Madre is seen at the Second Thomas Shoal, locally known as Ayungin Shoal, at the South China Sea, April 23, 2023. A Chinese vessel and a Philippine supply ship collided near the disputed Spratly Islands in the South China Sea on Monday, June 17, 2024, China's coast guard said.(AP Photo/Aaron Favila)

FILE - Philippine navy ship BRP Sierra Madre is seen at the Second Thomas Shoal, locally known as Ayungin Shoal, at the South China Sea, April 23, 2023. A Chinese vessel and a Philippine supply ship collided near the disputed Spratly Islands in the South China Sea on Monday, June 17, 2024, China's coast guard said.(AP Photo/Aaron Favila)

President Joe Biden dropped out of the 2024 race for the White House on Sunday, ending his bid for reelection following a disastrous debate with Donald Trump that raised doubts about his fitness for office just four months before the election.

Meanwhile, Vice President Kamala Harris is being thrust into the most scrutinizing of spotlights, suddenly the leading candidate to succeed Biden as the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee and her party’s main hope of defeating Trump.

Follow the AP’s Election-2024 coverage at: https://apnews.com/hub/election-2024.

Here's the Latest:

Additional endorsements Monday, including Maryland Gov. Wes Moore, Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker and Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear, left a dwindling list of potential rivals to Vice President Kamala Harris as she moves to lock up Democratic delegates behind her campaign for the White House.

Winning the nomination is only the first item on a staggering political to-do list for her after Biden’s decision to exit the race, which she learned about on a Sunday morning call with the president. If she’s successful at locking up the nomination, she must also pick a running mate and pivot a massive political operation to boost her candidacy instead of Biden’s with just over 100 days until Election Day.

The Secret Service director is set to testify Monday before a congressional committee as calls mount for her to resign over security failures at a rally where a 20-year-old gunman attempted to assassinate former President Donald Trump.

The House Oversight Committee hearing will be Director Kimberly Cheatle’s first appearance before lawmakers since the July 13 Pennsylvania rally shooting that left one spectator dead.

Lawmakers have been expressing anger over how the gunman could get so close to the Republican presidential nominee when he was supposed to be carefully guarded.

As President Joe Biden was deciding to withdraw from the race Sunday morning, Vice President Kamala Harris had multiple phone conversations with him, according to a person familiar who spoke only on background to more freely divulge details.

Harris was at the vice president’s residence at the Naval Observatory in Washington. She was surrounded by family and staff and wore a hooded Howard University sweatshirt, workout sweats and sneakers, the person said.

She spent 10-plus hours Sunday placing calls to more than 100 party leaders, members of Congress, governors, labor leaders, and leaders of advocacy and civil rights organizations. Harris told all that she was grateful Biden endorsed her upon leaving the race but she planned to earn the Democratic presidential nomination in her own right.

The vice president also called her pastor, Amos Brown III, who, along with his wife, prayed over her.

Harris arranged lunch and dinner for assembled aides. They ate afternoon sandwiches and salad and pizza in the evening. Harris’ pizza had anchovies, which the person said is her go-to topping.

— Will Weissert

“The vice president is smart and strong, which will make her a good president,” Beshear said during a Monday morning appearance on MSNBC. “But she’s also kind and has empathy, which can make her a great president.”

Beshear praised Harris’ resume as a former prosecutor and says she’s ready to assume the presidency. He says he’s willing to do everything he can to support her.

Asked if he’s open to potentially joining the ticket, Beshear said he loves his job as governor. “The only way I would consider something other than this current job is if I believed I could further help my people and to help this country,” he said.

Beshear defeated Trump-endorsed Republicans to win the governorship in 2019 and to win reelection last year in his Republican-leaning state.

Speaking on Monday to CBS, the West Virginia Democrat-turned-independent said “I don’t need that in my life.”

Manchin had been the latest senator to call for Biden to exit the 2024 race before Sunday’s announcement by Biden that he would do just that.

Manchin had already mulled a late-breaking 2024 White House bid of his own but said in February after a listening tour that he didn’t want to be a “spoiler.” As a Democrat, he had often bucked his own party’s leadership.

Luxembourg Foreign Minister Xavier Bettel praised President Joe Biden for his announcement that he’s ending his bid for reelection.

“It takes courage for a politician to say ‘I’m a bit old and I’m not capable of doing it anymore,’” Bettel said, describing it as a “courageous and difficult decision” by Biden.

Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, a Democrat from New York, endorsed Harris and called her “an unwavering champion for families, workers and justice.”

Gillibrand, who ran against Harris in the 2020 Democratic presidential primary, said in a statement Monday that the vice president is “incredibly well-qualified, with experience as a prosecutor, as a lawmaker, and as a leader on the world stage.”

“Now is the time to unite,” the senator said. “VP Harris has the grit and toughness to beat Donald Trump and I’m eager to join her in this fight.”

ActBlue, the Democratic fundraising platform, announced that it had collected $46.7 million as of 9 p.m. ET from small-dollar donations for Vice President Harris’ campaign.

The Biden campaign and affiliated groups previously had about $96 million in cash on hand. The Republican National Convention, by contrast, reported a campaign fund of $102 million in June.

Donald Trump’s campaign has spent the last year and a half viciously attacking Joe Biden, ridiculing his policies, mocking his fumbles and relishing a rematch they felt they were winning.

But it has also spent weeks preparing for the possibility that he might exit the race, readying a bevy of attacks against Vice President Kamala Harris that it unleashed as soon as Biden made his stunning announcement Sunday that he would step aside.

Biden soon after endorsed Harris, who was quickly winning support from Democrats to be the party’s nominee.

The shakeup less than four months before Election Day lays out new challenges for Trump’s team, which had until recently been focused on contrasting the former president’s vigor and mental acuity with Biden’s.

Read more about the Trump campaign's pivot toward Harris.

The Democratic delegations of multiple states have decided to back Vice President Kamala Harris for the party nomination at next month’s national convention.

“Tonight, all 168 delegates of the North Carolina Democratic Party made history,” North Carolina party chair Anderson Clayton said in a post on the social platform X.

In South Carolina, party chair Christale Spain said in an email statement Sunday night that that state’s delegation met virtually. The vice president “has been fully vetted, and she has earned our unwavering support,” Spain said.

Harris received her first delegates earlier in the day from Tennessee, when the state party posted on X that its delegation voted during a meeting to back her.

Another state where the switch was made was New Hampshire, where the 25 pledged delegates voted unanimously Sunday night to endorse Harris.

The nation’s six Black state attorneys general threw their support behind Vice President Harris. In a statement on X, they laid out her qualifications and said she “has staunchly defended our right to choose and preserved our most sacred right to vote. There is no one more qualified to lead and continue to uphold the values of our great nation.”

The statement listed Letitia James, New York; Kwame Raoul, Illinois; Anthony Brown, Maryland; Andrea Campbell, Massachusetts; Keith Ellison, Minnesota; and Aaron Ford, Nevada.

FILE - Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., speaks before the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence on Capitol Hill, June 13, 2017, in Washington. She's already broken barriers, and now Vice President Harris could soon become the first Black woman to head a major party's presidential ticket after President Joe Biden's ended his reelection bid. The 59-year-old Harris was endorsed by Biden on Sunday, July 21, after he stepped aside amid widespread concerns about the viability of his candidacy. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, File)

FILE - Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., speaks before the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence on Capitol Hill, June 13, 2017, in Washington. She's already broken barriers, and now Vice President Harris could soon become the first Black woman to head a major party's presidential ticket after President Joe Biden's ended his reelection bid. The 59-year-old Harris was endorsed by Biden on Sunday, July 21, after he stepped aside amid widespread concerns about the viability of his candidacy. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, File)

Supporters of Republican presidential candidate former President Donald Trump and Republican vice presidential candidate Sen. JD Vance, R-Ohio, carry a sign before a campaign event, Saturday, July 20, 2024, at Van Andel Arena in Grand Rapids, Mich. (AP Photo/Carlos Osorio)

Supporters of Republican presidential candidate former President Donald Trump and Republican vice presidential candidate Sen. JD Vance, R-Ohio, carry a sign before a campaign event, Saturday, July 20, 2024, at Van Andel Arena in Grand Rapids, Mich. (AP Photo/Carlos Osorio)

Supporters of Republican presidential candidate former President Donald Trump and Republican vice presidential candidate Sen. JD Vance, R-Ohio, hold signs in the audience at a campaign event, Saturday, July 20, 2024, at Van Andel Arena in Grand Rapids, Mich. (AP Photo/Carlos Osorio)

Supporters of Republican presidential candidate former President Donald Trump and Republican vice presidential candidate Sen. JD Vance, R-Ohio, hold signs in the audience at a campaign event, Saturday, July 20, 2024, at Van Andel Arena in Grand Rapids, Mich. (AP Photo/Carlos Osorio)

Republican vice presidential candidate Sen. JD Vance, R-Ohio, arrives to speak before Republican presidential candidate former President Donald Trump at a campaign rally, Saturday, July 20, 2024, in Grand Rapids, Mich. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

Republican vice presidential candidate Sen. JD Vance, R-Ohio, arrives to speak before Republican presidential candidate former President Donald Trump at a campaign rally, Saturday, July 20, 2024, in Grand Rapids, Mich. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

Republican presidential candidate former President Donald Trump speaks at a campaign rally, Saturday, July 20, 2024, in Grand Rapids, Mich. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

Republican presidential candidate former President Donald Trump speaks at a campaign rally, Saturday, July 20, 2024, in Grand Rapids, Mich. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

Republican presidential candidate former President Donald Trump arrives at a campaign rally, Saturday, July 20, 2024, in Grand Rapids, Mich. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

Republican presidential candidate former President Donald Trump arrives at a campaign rally, Saturday, July 20, 2024, in Grand Rapids, Mich. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

Mattia Crovino, of Bologna, Italy, watches a news broadcast announcing that President Joe Biden has dropped out of the 2024 race for the White House, Sunday, July 21, 2024,. (AP Photo/David Goldman)

Mattia Crovino, of Bologna, Italy, watches a news broadcast announcing that President Joe Biden has dropped out of the 2024 race for the White House, Sunday, July 21, 2024,. (AP Photo/David Goldman)

Anna Filipic, of Washington, holds her daughter Louisa Monje, 2, outside the White House in Washington, Sunday, July 21, 2024, as they show support for President Joe Biden. Biden dropped out of the 2024 race for the White House on Sunday, ending his bid for reelection following a disastrous debate with Donald Trump that raised doubts about his fitness for office just four months before the election. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

Anna Filipic, of Washington, holds her daughter Louisa Monje, 2, outside the White House in Washington, Sunday, July 21, 2024, as they show support for President Joe Biden. Biden dropped out of the 2024 race for the White House on Sunday, ending his bid for reelection following a disastrous debate with Donald Trump that raised doubts about his fitness for office just four months before the election. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

Republican presidential candidate former President Donald Trump speaks at a campaign rally, Saturday, July 20, 2024, in Grand Rapids, Mich. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

Republican presidential candidate former President Donald Trump speaks at a campaign rally, Saturday, July 20, 2024, in Grand Rapids, Mich. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

Republican presidential candidate former President Donald Trump arrives at a campaign rally, Saturday, July 20, 2024, in Grand Rapids, Mich. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

Republican presidential candidate former President Donald Trump arrives at a campaign rally, Saturday, July 20, 2024, in Grand Rapids, Mich. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

George Ledbetter watches news of President Joe Biden dropping out of the 2024 race for the White House at They Say Restaurant in Harper Woods, Mich., Sunday, July 21, 2024. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)

George Ledbetter watches news of President Joe Biden dropping out of the 2024 race for the White House at They Say Restaurant in Harper Woods, Mich., Sunday, July 21, 2024. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)

A news crawl appears on the side of the Fox News building in New York, Sunday, July 21, 2024, in the wake of President Joe Biden dropping out of the 2024 race for the White House. (AP Photo/Craig Ruttle)

A news crawl appears on the side of the Fox News building in New York, Sunday, July 21, 2024, in the wake of President Joe Biden dropping out of the 2024 race for the White House. (AP Photo/Craig Ruttle)

Republican presidential candidate former President Donald Trump speaks at a campaign rally, Saturday, July 20, 2024, in Grand Rapids, Mich. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

Republican presidential candidate former President Donald Trump speaks at a campaign rally, Saturday, July 20, 2024, in Grand Rapids, Mich. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

A view of the White House is seen in Washington, Sunday, July 21, 2024. President Joe Biden dropped out of the 2024 race for the White House on Sunday, ending his bid for reelection following a disastrous debate with Donald Trump that raised doubts about his fitness for office just four months before the election. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

A view of the White House is seen in Washington, Sunday, July 21, 2024. President Joe Biden dropped out of the 2024 race for the White House on Sunday, ending his bid for reelection following a disastrous debate with Donald Trump that raised doubts about his fitness for office just four months before the election. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

FILE - Vice President Kamala Harris embraces President Joe Biden after a speech on healthcare in Raleigh, N.C., March. 26, 2024. President Joe Biden dropped out of the 2024 race for the White House on Sunday, July 21, ending his bid for reelection following a disastrous debate with Donald Trump that raised doubts about his fitness for office just four months before the election. (AP Photo/Matt Kelley, File)

FILE - Vice President Kamala Harris embraces President Joe Biden after a speech on healthcare in Raleigh, N.C., March. 26, 2024. President Joe Biden dropped out of the 2024 race for the White House on Sunday, July 21, ending his bid for reelection following a disastrous debate with Donald Trump that raised doubts about his fitness for office just four months before the election. (AP Photo/Matt Kelley, File)

A handmade sign for Vice President Kamala Harris appears on a lawn, Sunday, July 21, 2024, in Washington. She’s already broken barriers, and now Harris could soon become the first Black woman to head a major party's presidential ticket after President Joe Biden’s ended his reelection bid. The 59-year-old Harris was endorsed by Biden on Sunday, after he stepped aside amid widespread concerns about the viability of his candidacy. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)

A handmade sign for Vice President Kamala Harris appears on a lawn, Sunday, July 21, 2024, in Washington. She’s already broken barriers, and now Harris could soon become the first Black woman to head a major party's presidential ticket after President Joe Biden’s ended his reelection bid. The 59-year-old Harris was endorsed by Biden on Sunday, after he stepped aside amid widespread concerns about the viability of his candidacy. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)

Balloons for President Joe Biden are brought to the White House in Washington, Sunday, July 21, 2024. Biden dropped out of the 2024 race for the White House on Sunday, ending his bid for reelection following a disastrous debate with Donald Trump that raised doubts about his fitness for office just four months before the election. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

Balloons for President Joe Biden are brought to the White House in Washington, Sunday, July 21, 2024. Biden dropped out of the 2024 race for the White House on Sunday, ending his bid for reelection following a disastrous debate with Donald Trump that raised doubts about his fitness for office just four months before the election. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

Hugh Kieve, 10, of Washington, holds a sign outside the White House in Washington, Sunday, July 21, 2024, as he and his family come out to show support for President Joe Biden. Biden dropped out of the 2024 race for the White House on Sunday, ending his bid for reelection following a disastrous debate with Donald Trump that raised doubts about his fitness for office just four months before the election. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

Hugh Kieve, 10, of Washington, holds a sign outside the White House in Washington, Sunday, July 21, 2024, as he and his family come out to show support for President Joe Biden. Biden dropped out of the 2024 race for the White House on Sunday, ending his bid for reelection following a disastrous debate with Donald Trump that raised doubts about his fitness for office just four months before the election. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

FILE - President Joe Biden arrives for the NATO summit in Washington, July 10, 2024. Biden dropped out of the 2024 race for the White House on Sunday, July 21, ending his bid for reelection following a disastrous debate with Donald Trump that raised doubts about his fitness for office just four months before the election. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin, File)

FILE - President Joe Biden arrives for the NATO summit in Washington, July 10, 2024. Biden dropped out of the 2024 race for the White House on Sunday, July 21, ending his bid for reelection following a disastrous debate with Donald Trump that raised doubts about his fitness for office just four months before the election. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin, File)

FILE - Vice President Kamala Harris speaks at an event May 1, 2024, in Jacksonville, Fla. She’s already broken barriers, and now Harris could soon become the first Black woman to head a major party's presidential ticket after President Joe Biden’s ended his reelection bid. The 59-year-old Harris was endorsed by Biden on Sunday, July 21, after he stepped aside amid widespread concerns about the viability of his candidacy. (AP Photo/John Raoux, File)

FILE - Vice President Kamala Harris speaks at an event May 1, 2024, in Jacksonville, Fla. She’s already broken barriers, and now Harris could soon become the first Black woman to head a major party's presidential ticket after President Joe Biden’s ended his reelection bid. The 59-year-old Harris was endorsed by Biden on Sunday, July 21, after he stepped aside amid widespread concerns about the viability of his candidacy. (AP Photo/John Raoux, File)

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