The Philippines alleged yesterday that a Chinese vessel accidentally rammed a local fishing boat north of a disputed South China Sea shoal, killing one and leaving four others missing.
The fishing boat set out from the northern coastal town of Bolinao, in Pangasinan province, last Monday and was reported to have sunk two days later, Office of Civil Defence chief Benito Ramos told AFP.
The rescued fishermen told authorities they believed the vessel which collided with their boat was Chinese, Ramos said, though this could not be independently verified.
Chinese embassy officials were not available for comment on Sunday.
Ramos said the incident occurred north of Scarborough Shoal where the Philippines and China have been engaged in a tense stand off since April.
President Benigno Aquino earlier this month ordered two Philippine ships to pull out from the shoal during bad weather, a move that the Chinese said calmed tensions in the area.
While China said it would also ask its fishermen to leave the area, it stressed it had no intention of pulling out its bigger ships from there.
As of last week, there were still seven Chinese ships at the shoal, according to the Philippines foreign ministry.
The dispute began in April after Chinese government vessels blocked Philippine ships from arresting Chinese fishermen near the shoal.
Since then, both countries have maintained ships there to press their respective claims to the area.
China claims nearly all of the South China Sea, even waters close to the coasts of neighboring countries. The Philippines says the shoal is well within its 200-nautical-mile exclusive economic zone.
Of course the United States is getting involved!