The PLAN vessel then started shadowing the Benguet, which was reportedly on a resupply mission, before attempting to cross the vessel’s bow at a distance of approximately 320 meters, per the Philippines Armed Forces in a statement published on Facebook.
It further posted a video clip of the encounter.
Thitu, part of the Spratly Islands chain, was also occupied by the Philippines in the 1970s and is currently home to about 400 individuals.
The risky manoeuvres also pose major risks to maritime safety, danger, and collision prevention to human lives while at sea, the chief of Western Command, Vice Admiral Alberto Carlos, mentioned in the statement.
China must halt unsafe actions immediately and conduct itself in a professional way by following international law.
China and the Philippines have had multiple encounters over the recent months in areas that lie in Manila’s 200-nm exclusive economic zone (EEZ).
Last month, divers from the Philippine Coast Guard removed a floating barrier installed at the Scarborough Shoal, which Beijing had seized from Manila following a months-long standoff in 2012.
General Romeo Brawner, the chief of staff associated with the Philippines Armed Forces, has urged China to discontinue its aggressive actions and dangerous manoeuvres toward Philippine vessels, which he mentioned risked resulting in a collision and endangering the lives of maritime personnel from both sides.
Several incidents have been reported at the Second Thomas Shoal in resupply missions to the Sierra Madre, which the Philippines grounded deliberately on the reef back in 1999 to boost its claim to the waters. The shoal lies approximately 195km northwest of Palawan, the Philippine province.
The Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague ruled in 2016 that China’s claim to the South China Sea had zero legal basis. However, Beijing has ignored this decision, expanding and setting up military outposts in the much-disputed waters and deploying maritime militia, fishing fleets, and coast guard to assert the claim.
Brunei, Malaysia, Vietnam, and Taiwan claim parts or all of the South China Sea.
The statement from the Philippines described Beijing’s presence close to Thitu Island as unlawful and said that its actions had breached international law.
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