China Claims Philippine Navy Seeks External Intervention in South China Sea

Philippine Coast Guard

“China has firmly gained actual control of Second Thomas Shoal and its adjacent waters, but China and the Philippines are in a stalemate.”

On 5 January, an anonymous Chinese analyst published the accompanying excerpted Chinese-language article analyzing the ongoing clashes in the South China Sea between China and the Philippines. The article contends that Philippine warships were illegally resting on the Second Thomas Shoal.[i]. The author claims the Philippines was attempting to send repair materials to those ships, escalating tensions with China. Further, the tensions provided excuses for external forces (specifically the United States and Japan) to intervene on the Philippine side. The author also suggests that the Philippine strategy was to benefit from foreign assistance to establish full control of the Second Thomas Shoal. The author’s outlook mimics the Chinese government’s official position. To that end, the author asserts that China has indisputable sovereignty over the South China Sea, to include the Second Thomas Shoal.[ii] While the author acknowledges that China and the Philippines are in a stalemate over control of the shoal, the author claims the Philippines will also try to provoke China into an action that would undermine its legitimate claims to the shoal. The author claims the Philippine strategy began with the new Marcos administration, which took office in June 2022.[iii] China contends the Philippine government should have removed the broken ships from the shoal instead of trying to repair them. In conclusion, the author insists that dialogue is the best way to manage differences in the South China Sea. However, as the author sees it, there appears to be little prospect for a resolution through dialogue due to the Marcos administration’s provocations.


“非法“坐滩”军舰即将解体,菲律宾又想了个馊主意 (The illegal “beach-sitting” warships will soon be ruined, and the Philippines has another bad idea),” (Beijing-based internet company providing information on diverse aspects of contemporary Chinese affairs), 5 January 2024.

In the past year, the Philippines has frequently provoked troubles in the South China Sea, and China has decisively counterattacked. In the end, the Philippines failed to obtain any benefits. However, the Philippines will obviously not surrender because its warships illegally on the Second Thomas Shoal beachside are about to be ruined. This is among the main reasons why the Philippines desperately breaks into the Second Thomas Shoal to transport repair materials. In addition, the Philippines intends to escalate tensions in the South China Sea and create excuses for external forces such as the United States and Japan to interfere in the situation in the South China Sea.


[i] The Second Thomas Shoal is an atoll in the Spratly Island chain and has been a flashpoint between China and the Philippines, among their other broader disputes in the South China Sea. The Philippines has deployed marines to a broken down navy ship, which was grounded on the shoal in 1999 while attempting to protect Philippine maritime claims. In 2013, China began to increase its presence near the shoal to weaken the Philippines’ control of it. China also claims that former Philippines president, Joseph Estrada (1998-2001), had promised to remove the Philippine Navy ship, but the current Marcos government denies this. “China-Philippines Tensions in the South China Sea,” Congressional Research Service, In Focus, 13 December 2023.

[ii] For additional information on the China-Philippines dispute over the Second Thomas Shoal, see: Dodge Billingsley, “China and Philippines Spar Over Grounded Ship in Spratly Islands,” OE Watch, 08-2023.

[iii] In 2020 and 2021, the Duterte administration began to express concerns about Chinese island reclamation in the South China Sea. Since coming to power in 2022, geopolitical factors have moved the Marcos administration even closer to the United States and farther from China. One reason for this is China’s increasing efforts to terraform islands in the South China Sea, which enables China to assert a greater territorial presence in the sea. Another reason is that the Chinese “fishing militia” has amassed at Whitsun Reef, which demonstrates China’s intent to seize it from Philippine control. Alvina Cambria, “From Aquino to Marcos: political survival and Philippine foreign policy towards China,” China, Journal of Contemporary East Asia Studies, 6 November 2023.

Image Information:

Image: A Chinese Coast Guard ship allegedly obstructs the Philippine Coast Guard vessel Malabrigo as it provided support during a Philippine Navy operation near Second Thomas Shoal in the disputed South China Sea, 30 June 2023.
Source: Philippine Coast Guard,,_2023_PCG_CCG_encounter_1.jpg
Attribution: CC x 2.0