MANILA: 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 Philippine vessel BRP Teresa Magbanua was sent in early February to patrol the waters around Scarborough Shoal, a rich fishing ground in the South China Sea, and deliver provisions to Filipino fishermen and ensure their safety.

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 coast guard also observed what it described as “four Chinese Maritime Militia vessels”.

Published in Dawn, February 12th, 2024

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