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China blames Philippines for clash of two vessels in the South China Sea

A CHINESE vessel and a Philippine supply ship collided near the Spratly Islands in the South China Sea today, China’s coastguard said.

The coastguard that said a Philippine supply ship entered waters near the Second Thomas Shoal, a submerged reef in the Spratly Islands.

They accused the Philippine craft of ignoring “repeated solemn warnings and dangerously approached a Chinese vessel in normal navigation in an unprofessional manner, resulting in a collision.”

The Chinese coastguard said: “The Philippines is entirely responsible for this.”

China’s Foreign Ministry, which described its coastguard’s actions as “professional, restrained, reasonable and lawful.”

The Foreign Ministry did not expand on the extent of the damage to the Chinese or Philippine vessels.

But authorities in the Philippines say the shoal falls within its internationally recognised exclusive economic zone and described the Chinese coastguard’s report as “deceptive and misleading.”

The Filipinos said that they would “not discuss operational details on the legal humanitarian rotation and resupply mission at Ayungin Shoal, which is well within our exclusive economic zone.”

It used the Philippine name for the shoal, where Filipino navy personnel have transported food, medicine and other supplies to a long-grounded warship that has served as Manila’s territorial outpost.

Filipino military spokesperson Colonel Xerxes Trinidad accused the Chinese of “escalating tensions in the region.”

A new law by China, which took effect on Saturday, authorises its coastguard to seize foreign ships “that illegally enter China’s territorial waters” and to detain foreign crews for up to 60 days. 

The law allows China’s coastguard to fire upon foreign ships if deemed necessary to protect Chinese waters.

At least three coastal governments with claims to the waters — the Philippines, Vietnam and Taiwan — have said they would not recognise the law.

The United States has also sought to profit from disagreements over sovereignty of waters in the South China Sea to ramp up tensions in the region.

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