China Sea The Philippines again accuses Beijing of blocking a

China Sea: The Philippines again accuses Beijing of blocking a boat

The Philippines on Sunday accused the Chinese coast guard of trying to block a Philippine government ship that was supplying fishermen. This was the second such incident near an atoll in the South China Sea in two weeks.

These incidents occurred near Scarborough Atoll, which is controlled by China but over which Manila and Beijing claim sovereignty.

The Philippine boat, the BRP Datu Sanday, was supplying fuel to fishermen near the atoll when it was harassed by a Chinese Coast Guard vessel and three other Chinese vessels on February 22, the Philippine Coast Guard said.

Three of the four Chinese ships came within 100 meters of the Datu Sanday's bow, according to a report on the incident, which also mentioned interference with the ship's transponders and other “dangerous maneuvers”.

“Despite these maneuvers, BRP Captain Datu Sanday demonstrated excellent maritime skills and managed to evade the blockade attempts,” said Jay Tarriela, Philippine Coast Guard spokesman for maritime affairs. from southern China.

A week earlier, the Philippine Coast Guard reported that a similar altercation occurred on this boat in the area.

The Scarborough Atoll – a group of reefs and rocks – has been a flashpoint of tensions between the two countries since China took control in 2012.

Since then, Beijing has deployed patrol boats to harass Filipino ships and prevent Filipino fishermen from entering the fish-rich lagoon, according to Manila.

On social media, China's Global Times newspaper wrote Saturday that the Chinese coast guard pushed back the Datu Sanday “when the ship illegally entered the waters adjacent to China's Huangyan Island,” using the atoll's Chinese name.

Scarborough Atoll is located 240 kilometers west of the Philippines' main island, Luzon, and nearly 900 kilometers from the nearest point on mainland China, Hainan.

China claims almost the entire South China Sea.

Last year, clashes between China and the Philippines over reefs claimed by both countries included clashes and Chinese ships firing water cannons at Filipino boats.