South China Sea: Philippine coastguard accuses Chinese vessels of ‘dangerous, blocking manoeuvres’
The Philippine Coast Guard on Sunday accused Chinese vessels of “dangerous” manoeuvres during a nine-day patrol near a reef off the coast of the Southeast Asian country.
The reef has been a flashpoint between the countries since China seized it from the Philippines in 2012.
Since then, Beijing has deployed patrol boats that Manila says harass Philippine vessels and prevent Filipino fishermen from reaching the lagoon where fish are more plentiful.
During the patrol, Chinese Coast Guard (CCG) vessels “performed dangerous and blocking manoeuvres at sea against BRP Teresa Magbanua four times, with the CCG vessels crossing the bow of the PCG vessel twice”, the Philippine Coast Guard said in a statement.
The Philippine Coast Guard said its ship was also “shadowed” by four Chinese Coast Guard vessels “on more than 40 occasions”.
The coastguard also observed what it described as “four Chinese Maritime Militia vessels”.
Videos released by the Philippine Coast Guard show a Chinese Coast Guard vessel metres from the port beam of the BRP Teresa Magbanua, before it crosses the path of the Filipino boat.
“Nevertheless, the PCG vessel professionally engaged both the CCG and CMM vessels through radio reiterating the clear and principled position of the Philippines in accordance with international law,” the statement said.
The Chinese embassy in Manila did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Livelihoods lost: The fishermen snared in the Scarborough Shoal dispute
Scarborough Shoal is 240km (150 miles) west of the Philippines’ main island of Luzon and nearly 900km from the nearest major Chinese land mass of Hainan.
Under the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, which China helped negotiate, countries have