Tensions in the South China Sea region continue to remain high as China and the Philippines were involved this weekend in the latest of a series of maritime confrontations.

Manila and Beijing hit out at each other in blistering statements on October 22, in which they accused one another of causing dangerous collisions at sea.

The Philippines claimed the first incident happened when a Chinese Coast Guard ship carried out “dangerous blocking manoeuvres” that caused it to collide with one of Manila’s vessels.

The Filipino boat involved in the incident was heading towards the Ayungin Shoal, also known as Second Thomas Shoal, in the Spratly Islands chain, in order to provide supplies to the troops stationed there.

Manila branded the coast guard’s move “provocative, irresponsible and illegal” and “imperilled the safety of the crew” of its boats.

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Another collision between the two countries’ vessels happened also on Sunday between a Chinese maritime militia vessel and a Philippine Coast Guard ship, the National Task Force for the West Philippine Sea claimed.

Much like the other Filipino boat, the Coast Guard was on its way to resupply the BRP Dumagat – originally BRP Sierra Madre.

In 1999, the US-made vessel had been run aground on the Second Thomas Shoal to maintain a Filipino presence in the contended area.

A detachment of navy members of the Philippines has been stationed there since. China has frequently tried to prevent the resupply of the BRP Dumagat over the years.

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The Chinese Coast Guard did not take the blame for the collisions and, rather, accused the Philippines of violating international marine law and threatening the safety of Beijing’s vessels.

The organisation claimed the first Philippine ship had trespassed into Chinese waters, which prompted the Coast Guard to intercept it “in accordance with the law” – a move which resulted in a “minor collision”.

As for the second incident, the Philippine Coast Guard boat “purposely provoked trouble and reversed course”, China claimed, causing a collision with a Chinese fishing boat.

This is just the latest incident between the Chinese Coast Guard and the Philippines in the South China Sea. On October 4, Manila accused Beijing of conducting “the closest dangerous manoeuvre” against one of their patrol ships that was heading towards the Second Thomas Shoal.

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Weeks prior, the Filipino Coast Guard said to have removed the 300-metre-long floating barrier China had placed to stop its boat from entering a lagoon in another disputed area, the Scarborough Shoal.

While China claims “indisputable sovereignty” on almost the entirety of the South China Sea, an international tribunal in The Hague ruled in favour of the Philippines in 2016, concluding China has no legal basis to claim historic rights to the bulk of the area.

Beijing has ignored the ruling and continues to be involved in sovereignty disputes with several nations.

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