On June 9, a Chinese trawler collided with a small Philippine fishing vessel in disputed waters in the South China Sea in what Philippine officials described as a “hit and run” incident. Even if the collision was accidental, the behaviour of the Chinese boat in leaving the scene has caused an outcry in the Philippines.
- The incident is likely to work against Manila’s policy of seeking joint development of offshore energy resources with China.
- President Rodrigo Duterte’s China-friendly policy will remain unchanged in the short term.
- A joint Philippines-China investigation into the incident would find it to have been accidental (whatever the facts may be).
- China will attempt to tighten control over its South China Sea maritime militia, and fishing fleet more broadly.