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US urges China to stop threatening Philippine ships in South Sea – 04/30/2023

The United States on Saturday urged China to stop its “provocative and dangerous behavior” in the disputed South China Sea after a Chinese coast guard vessel intercepted a Philippine patrol boat and nearly caused a collision.

Two days before President Joe Biden welcomed his Philippine counterpart, Ferdinand Marcos, to the White House, State Department spokesman Matthew Miller said the scenes were a reminder of China’s “harassment and intimidation” of Philippine ships in the disputed territory. .

“We urge Beijing to desist from its provocative and dangerous behavior,” Miller said, adding that any attack on the Philippine military would trigger a US response.

The Spratly Islands near Miss are the latest in a long line in the sea lane between China and the Philippines.

Beijing claims sovereignty over much of the South China Sea, ignoring international rulings that such a claim has no legal basis.

Agence France-Presse (AFP) was one of several media outlets to witness the incident after journalists were invited to join two Philippine Coast Guard boats on a six-day patrol to a dozen islands and reefs.

The Philippine ships approached the second Thomas Shoal reef, known as Renai Jiao in China, in the Spratly Archipelago.

As the BRP Malapascua, carrying Filipino journalists, approached the sandbar, a Chinese coast guard vessel twice its size crossed its path.

AFP journalists watched the incident from another Philippine Coast Guard vessel less than a kilometer away.

The Malapascua’s captain said the Chinese ship came within 45 meters of his ship, but his quick actions prevented the ships from colliding.

Last month, US forces in the Philippines staged one of the largest military maneuvers in the history of the Indo-Pacific region. The naval exercise involved more than 17,000 troops, military observers from Japan and Australia and a defense simulation of the Spratly Islands, an archipelago south of Taiwan claimed by the Philippines and controlled by China. The drills come a day after China staged military exercises in the Taiwan Strait in response to President Tsai Ing-wen’s visit to the US. (with international agencies)

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