Philippines Asks China to Explain Ship Confrontation

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It was a tense encounter for one Philippine survey ship on the South China Sea Friday. It was approached by two Chinese vessels, threatening to ram the survey ship. The area where the conflict happened contains large oil and mineral deposits and is claimed by many countries as their own.

On Friday, the Philippines demanded an explanation from China over an incident in a disputed area in the South China Sea.

It happened Wednesday when a Philippine-appointed survey ship was conducting seismic tests in the Reed Bank, which China also claims as part of its territorial waters in the South China Sea.

[Albert Del Rosario, Foreign Affairs Secretary, Philippines]:
"There was an encounter by a Philippine-sanctioned ship in the west Palawan area with two Chinese boats, leading to a change of direction on the part of the Philippine ship. We are asking our Chinese friends an explanation of what happened and we are in dialogue with them."

The survey vessel moved away from its position to avoid further confrontation and resumed its normal activities.

One Philippine military official said the Chinese ships had shadowed and threatened to ram the survey vessel.

The Chinese vessels left after two Philippine aircraft approached the area in response to a request for help from the survey ship.

China and the Philippines are among six states laying claim on Spratly Islands in the South China Sea. The territory believed to be sitting on rich deposits of oil, gas and minerals. Brunei, Malaysia, Vietnam and Taiwan also claim the territory as their own.