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Philippine Navy Says China Tailed Its Warship

Two Chinese coast guard ships and two militia vessels tailed a Philippine warship near Mischief Reef in the South China Sea, the Southeast Asian nation said.

The navy’s BRP Andres Bonifacio was conducting a patrol and search mission on Feb. 1 when it was monitored and tailed by the Chinese vessels near the reef, which is within the Philippines’ 200-nautical mile exclusive economic zone, said Armand Balilo, a spokesman for the coast guard. The militia boats “even conducted an intercept course,” he added.

Tensions between Manila and Beijing have risen recently as China increases its presence in the South China Sea, with more vessels appearing off the Philippines’ west coast. Chinese ships have regularly been seen trailing Philippine fishing vessels, often intercepting them and forcing them to divert from contested areas.

The Philippines will not concede its territorial claims, President Ferdinand Marcos said in a January interview.

The US and the Philippines have agreed to resume joint patrols in the South China Sea, a decision reached during a Feb. 2 meeting between US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and his Philippine counterpart, Carlito Galvez. In 2016, then President Rodrigo Duterte halted the joint patrols.