According to the BBC, Chinese vessels have been preventing Filipino supply boats from reaching an outpost in the South China Sea.
The incident occurred as two Philippine Coast Guard ships, one of which the BBC was aboard, and two small commercial boats approached the Second Thomas Shoal.
They were confronted by a Chinese ships of Coast Guard five times the size of the commercial vessels.
The two sides’ confrontation lasted several hours.
Tensions between Manila and Beijing remain high following the Philippines coast guard’s breaching of China’s barriers in disputed waters last month.
Every month, Manila resupplies its outpost in the Spratly Islands’ Second Thomas Shoal to underline its economic claims to waters rich in both fish and mineral resources.
Beijing claims the entire South China Sea, including the Spratlys, which the Philippines also claims in part.
The event occurred on the second day of a three-day excursion to the Second Thomas Shoal on Wednesday. The journey was hampered by heavy waves caused by an impending typhoon and the seasonal monsoon.
Shortly after daylight, the Filipinos were hailed by the Chinese Coast Guard, as well as two blue militia vessels with Chinese markings.
The two Philippine Coast Guard ships were accompanying the Filipino commercial boats, which were carrying supplies for about a month.
When the two ships collided, the Chinese ships issued radio challenges to the Filipinos, requesting that they depart. When the Philippine ships failed to cooperate, the Chinese formed a box shape to obstruct them.
The two Filipino commercial ships were able to circumvent the blockade due to their tiny size, a method that has proven effective in recent months.
However, the two Philippine Coast Guard ships were too large to pass and came within a few meters of the Chinese ships at one point. Their crews took shots of each other because they were so nearby. A military plane from the Philippines was also seen flying overhead.
At sundown, the Philippine ships returned after confirming that the supplies had been delivered and that the two commercial ships were safely on their way back to port.
On Thursday, all four vessels returned to port, several hours’ journey north of Manila.
China has been accused of using water cannons and beaming lasers at Philippine ships to push them away.
In addition, Manila believes that China deploys militia ships to supplement coast guard patrols in the disputed waterway.
Acting on a lawsuit brought forth by Manila, an international arbitration court in The Hague determined in 2016 that China’s extensive sea claims were without foundation. Beijing has refused to acknowledge it.
For More Related News Click Here