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Chinese vessels block PH ship

(UPDATE) THE Philippine Coast Guard on Sunday accused Chinese vessels of «dangerous» maneuvers during a nine-day patrol near a reef off the coast of the country.

The Philippine vessel BRP Teresa Magbanua was deployed in early February to patrol the waters around Scarborough Shoal, a rich fishing ground in the South China Sea, deliver provisions to Filipino fishermen, and ensure their safety.

The reef has been a flashpoint between the countries since China seized it from the Philippines in 2012.

Since then, Beijing has deployed patrol boats that Manila says harass Philippine vessels and prevent Filipino fishermen from reaching the lagoon where fish are more plentiful.

During the patrol, China Coast Guard (CCG) vessels «performed dangerous and blocking maneuvers at sea against BRP Teresa Magbanua four times, with the CCG vessels crossing the bow of the PCG vessel twice,» the Philippine Coast Guard said in a statement.

The Philippine Coast Guard said its ship was also «shadowed» by four China Coast Guard vessels «on more than 40 occasions.»

The Coast Guard also observed what it described as «four Chinese Maritime Militia vessels.»

Videos released by the Philippine Coast Guard show a China Coast Guard vessel meters from the port beam of the BRP Teresa Magbanua before it crosses the path of the Filipino boat.

«Nevertheless, the PCG vessel professionally engaged both the CCG and CMM vessels through radio, reiterating the clear and principled position of the Philippines in accordance with international law,» the statement said.

The Chinese Embassy in Manila did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Scarborough Shoal, locally known as Bajo de Masinloc, is 240 kilometers (150 miles) west of the Philippines' main island of Luzon and nearly 900 kilometers from the nearest major Chinese land mass of Hainan.

The Philippine Coast Guard handed out food and groceries to a hundred Filipino fishermen in 14 boats, the statement said.

The incidents came two months after tense standoffs between China and the Philippines around disputed reefs in the South China Sea that saw a collision between vessels from the two countries and Chinese ships blasting water cannons at Philippine