South China Sea: Philippines hits out at Chinese military’s ‘dangerous, offensive’ behaviour after fresh near miss
- Manila’s armed forces chief said the Chinese navy’s actions were putting lives ‘from both sides’ at risk after a close call on Friday near Thitu island
- A Chinese vessel had cut in front of a Philippine ship that was en route to a military station on the island and been ordered to steer clear, he said
A Chinese People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) vessel came as close as 320 metres (350 yards) of the BRP Benguet as it tried to cross in front of the Philippine ship southwest of Thitu island, Manila’s biggest and most strategically important outpost in the South China Sea that’s also known as Pag-asa, according to armed forces chief Romeo Brawner.
The crew of the Philippine vessel, which was en route to a military station on Friday for a regular rotation and resupply mission, cited the violation of collision regulations in its radio challenges and demanded the Chinese ship to steer clear. It received a counter response from People’s Liberation Army Navy Ship 621, which cited China’s nine-dash line, according to the statement.
“These dangerous and offensive manoeuvres by China’s PLAN not only risk collision but also directly endanger the lives of maritime personnel from both sides,” Brawner said in a statement on Sunday.
China’s foreign ministry on Monday said that the Philippines seriously violated Chinese sovereignty.
“The Philippine side illegally occupied the islands and seriously violated China’s sovereignty,” the foreign ministry spokesperson Mao Ning told a regular news conference.
Earlier this month, the Philippines said it successfully shipped fresh supply to a military outpost in a shoal in the South China Sea despite attempts by Chinese vessels to block and interfere with the mission.
China’s Foreign Ministry this month urged the Philippines to stop making “provocations” in the South China Sea as it vowed to do “what is necessary to firmly safeguard” its rights and interests in the contested waters.
China’s claims sovereignty to almost the entire South China Sea, through which more than $3 trillion of trade passes each year.