Philippine Coast Guard accuses Chinese vessel of trying to block scientists

Philippine Coast Guard accuses Chinese vessel of trying to block scientists
Philippine Coast Guard accuses Chinese vessel of trying to block scientists

Hello and welcome to the details of Philippine Coast Guard accuses Chinese vessel of trying to block scientists and now with the details

Nevin Al Sukari - Sana'a - The Philippine Coast Guard today accused a Chinese vessel of “dangerous manoeuvres” as it attempted to block Filipino scientists from reaching a reef in the South China Sea. — AFP pic

MANILA, March 22 — The Philippine Coast Guard today accused a Chinese vessel of “dangerous manoeuvres” as it attempted to block Filipino scientists from reaching a reef in the South China Sea.

The incident happened yesterday near Sandy Cay reef, several kilometres from the Philippine-held Thitu island in the contested Spratly Islands, where the two countries have repeatedly clashed in recent months.

Confrontations between Chinese and Philippine vessels, including collisions, in the strategic waterway have strained relations between Manila and Beijing, which have a long history of maritime territorial disputes.

In the latest incident, a boat belonging to the Philippine Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources was taking marine scientists to the reef when a China Coast Guard vessel crossed its path, coming as close as 100 metres (330 feet) to the boat, Philippine Coast Guard spokesman Commodore Jay Tarriela said.

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Tarriela said the China Coast Guard vessel sounded a siren for more than 30 minutes to draw the attention of “Chinese maritime militia” boats in the area.

However, the China Coast Guard said Thursday that 34 Filipinos had “illegally” landed on the reef it calls Tiexian Jiao and the Philippines calls Pagasa Cay 2.

Chinese “law enforcement officers” landed there, where they “investigated and handled (the situation)”, China Coast Guard spokesperson Gan Yu said in a statement.

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“That’s another lie coming from the Chinese coast guard,” Tarriela said today.

Tarriela said the scientific team spent four hours at two reefs and was able to complete its mission, despite the presence of Chinese vessels and a Chinese military helicopter circling overhead.

China claims almost the entire South China Sea, including the Spratly Islands, brushing off rival claims from countries including the Philippines and an international ruling that its assertion has no legal basis.

An initial assessment of Sandy Cay and a second reef near Thitu showed that the fish and corals were in a “very poor” state, University of the Philippines marine biologist Jonathan Anticamara told the press conference.

Anticamara, who led the scientific mission, said his team observed “unnatural” and “wide” piles of rubble taller than a person at Sandy Cay.

“We don’t know who put it there,” Anticamara said.

Some of the countries with overlapping claims to the Spratlys, including China and Vietnam, have turned reefs into artificial islands where they have built ports, airstrips and military facilities.

China’s land reclamation has outstripped that of other claimants, according to the US-based Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative (AMTI).

AMTI estimates China has carried out “unprecedented dredging and artificial island-building in the Spratlys” since 2013, creating about 1,300 hectares (3,200 acres) of new land. — AFP

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