Philippines condemns China for blocking vessels in South China Sea

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Nov. 18 (UPI) — The foreign secretary for the Philippines on Thursday told the Chinese government to “back off” after its Coast Guard vessels blocked two Philippine supply boats in the South China Sea.

“The acts of the Chinese Coast Guard vessels are illegal,” Foreign Secretary Teodoro Locsin said in a statement posted to Twitter by the Department of Foreign Affairs. “China has no law enforcement rights in and around these areas, They must take heed and back off. This failure to exercise self-restraint threatens the special relationship between the Philippines and China that President Rodrigo R. Duterte and President Xi Jinping.”

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The encounter occurred Tuesday as two Philippine vessels were carrying food supplies to its military personnel at Ayungin Shoal. Three Chinese Coast Guard vessels blocked and used water cannons on the Phillipine boats.

No one was injured, but the mission was aborted.

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China claims almost all of the South China Sea area as its own and has ongoing territorial disputes with nearly all of its neighbors.

The United States and Japan on Tuesday conducted their first anti-submarine military exercises in the South China Sea, Stars & Stripes reported.