MANILA – The Philippines Coast Guard said on Friday it was involved in a confrontation with Chinese vessels that made “dangerous maneuvers” in the South China Sea, the latest in a string of tense maritime interactions between the two countries.
The incident occurred as the Coast Guard undertook a week-long patrol in the strategic waterway and as Chinese Foreign Minister Qin Gang visited Manila last weekend to meet his Philippine counterpart and President Ferdinand Marcos Jr.
China claims most of the South China Sea, through which an estimated $3 trillion of dollars worth of goods pass each year. The Philippines has repeatedly called on Beijing to stop its “aggressive activities” in the area.
The Coast Guard said that during the April 18-24 mission, it identified more than 100 “alleged Chinese maritime militia vessels, a People’s Liberation Army Navy corvette class and two China Coast Guard vessels” within the Philippines’ 200-mile exclusive economic zone.
It added that one Chinese vessel “carried out dangerous maneuvers” at a distance of about 150 feet from a Philippine ship. Two other ships exhibited “aggressive tactics”, posing a “significant threat to the safety and security of the Philippine vessel and its crew”, it added.
The Chinese embassy in Manila did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
In February, the Philippine Coast Guard said a Chinese counterpart ship had directed a “military-grade laser” at one of its ships supporting a resupply mission to troops in the disputed waterway, temporarily blinding its crew on the bridge. — Reuters