Manila, Beijing trade blame over near collision of vessels in South China Sea

Manila, Apr 28 (EFE).- The Philippine Foreign Ministry defended on Friday the right of its coast guards to patrol in its territorial waters, after accusing Chinese vessels of “dangerous maneuvers” around disputed islands in the South China Sea that could result in a collision.

Philippine Foreign Ministry spokesperson Teresa Daza said in a statement that Coast Guard patrols in their own waters cannot be premeditated or provocative as it was their legal right that they would continue to exercise.

Earlier, the Philippine Coast Guard denounced in a statement that a Chinese Coast Guard ship had blocked its way, approaching less than 45 meters from its boat, putting their crew in serious danger of collision.

It underlined that the Chinese boats’ maneuvers posed a “significant threat to the safety and security of the Philippine vessel and its crew.”

On the other hand, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Mao Ning, in a press conference earlier on Friday, described the action of the Philippine ship as “premeditated and provocative”.

“The Chinese Coast Guard vessel upheld China’s sovereignty and maritime order by making timely maneuvers to dodge the dangerously approaching Philippine vessel and avoid collision,” said Mao.

The incident occurred on Apr.23 at Ayungin Atoll, located about 105 nautical miles off the coast of southwestern Philippines, and about 800 miles off the coast of Hainan, China.

Hence, the disputed atoll falls in the territorial waters of the Philippines, being within the limit of 200 miles established by the UN.

The incident occurred after the US and Philippine armies sank a disused ship as part of its joint military exercises in the South China Sea near an atoll China invaded in 2012.

China, for its part, opposes the new military agreement between the US and the Philippines, announced on April 3, whereby US troops will have access to four new bases on Philippine soil: one of them about 400 kilometers from Taiwan.

The Philippines President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. is scheduled to meet with his US counterpart, Joe Biden, on May 1 in Washington and address the growing tensions in the South China Sea. EFE


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