China Philippines navy spat captured on camera | “BREAKING NEWS” – 30 MARCH 2014
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Journalists on board a Philippine ship have witnessed Chinese coast guard vessels trying to block access to a disputed shoal in the South China Sea.
One of the Chinese ships radioed to demand the crew turn around, or “take full responsibility” for their actions.
But the Philippine boat, ferrying food to troops stationed on the Second Thomas Shoal, managed to slip past.
The shoal is one of many flashpoints in the area, where several countries have overlapping territorial claims.
China claims a U-shaped swathe of the sea – creating multiple overlaps with areas claimed by the Philippines, Vietnam, Brunei, Malaysia and Taiwan.
Saturday’s incident, which took place at Second Thomas Shoal (known as Ayungin in Manila and Ren’ai Reef in Beijing), is a rare glimpse into the tensions that routinely play out in the disputed waters.
Journalists say they saw two Chinese coast guard ships attempt to block the path of the Philippine boat, sending a radio message, in English, warning that it was entering Chinese territory: “We order you to stop immediately, stop all illegal activities and leave.”
But instead of leaving, the Philippine boat managed to manoeuvre away and enter waters that were too shallow for the Chinese ships to follow.
The captain of the Philippine vessel, Ferdinand Gato, later told Reuters news agency that if they had not changed direction, they would have collided with one of the Chinese vessels.
Philippine troops are stationed on a beached, rusting military ship on the shoal that analysts say has become a symbol of the country marking its territory.
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