Philippine Coast Guard Accuses Chinese Vessels of ‘Dangerous’ Maneuvers

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The Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) has accused Chinese vessels of engaging in “dangerous” maneuvers during a recent nine-day patrol near a reef off the coast of the Philippines. The patrol, conducted by the Philippine vessel BRP Teresa Magbanua, aimed to ensure the safety of Filipino fishermen and deliver provisions to the Scarborough Shoal, a rich fishing ground in the South China Sea.

Since China seized the Scarborough Shoal from the Philippines in 2012, tensions between the two countries have remained high. Beijing has deployed patrol boats that Manila claims harass Philippine vessels and prevent Filipino fishermen from accessing the lagoon where fish are more plentiful.

During the patrol, the Chinese Coast Guard (CCG) vessels engaged in “dangerous and blocking maneuvers” against the BRP Teresa Magbanua on multiple occasions. The Philippine Coast Guard reported that the CCG vessels crossed the bow of the PCG vessel twice, while also shadowing it on more than 40 occasions.

Additionally, the Philippine Coast Guard observed the presence of four Chinese Maritime Militia vessels during the patrol. Videos released by the Philippine Coast Guard show a Chinese Coast Guard vessel coming dangerously close to the Filipino boat before crossing its path.

In response to these incidents, the Philippine Coast Guard maintained a professional approach and engaged with the Chinese vessels through radio communication, reiterating the clear and principled position of the Philippines in accordance with international law.

The Chinese embassy in Manila has not yet responded to requests for comment regarding the accusations made by the Philippine Coast Guard.

The Scarborough Shoal, located 240 kilometers west of the Philippines’ main island of Luzon and nearly 900 kilometers from the nearest major Chinese land mass of Hainan, has been a contentious area between China and the Philippines. China claims almost the entire South China Sea, ignoring an international tribunal ruling that its assertions have no legal basis.

The recent incidents occurred two months after tense standoffs between China and the Philippines around disputed reefs in the South China Sea. These standoffs involved collisions between vessels from both countries and Chinese ships using water cannons against Philippine boats.

In an effort to support the Filipino fishermen affected by these tensions, the Philippine Coast Guard distributed food and groceries to a hundred fishermen in 14 boats during the patrol.

As tensions continue to escalate in the South China Sea, Chinese and Philippine officials have acknowledged the need for closer dialogue to address “maritime emergencies” in the waterway. It remains to be seen how these discussions will impact the ongoing disputes in the region.

Source: The Manila Times

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