May 27, 2016 / 10:04 AM / 3 years ago

Philippine arrests 10 Chinese fishermen in latest sea spat

File photo of members of the Philippine coast guard on a motorboat driving past one of the two decommissioned Landing Craft Heavy (LCH) vessels donated by the Australian government to the Philippines, docked at a bay in Manila August 9, 2015. REUTERS/Romeo Ranoco

MANILA (Reuters) - Two Philippine coast guard vessels intercepted a Chinese fishing boat with 10 crew off northeastern Luzon after a two-hour chase, two local broadcasters said on Friday, accusing them encroaching into Philippine territorial waters.

It was the latest in a series of similar clashes, with each side saying the other is in the wrong.

China and the Philippines are locked in a territorial dispute in the South China Sea, a strategic waterway where $5 trillion worth of ship-borne trade passes every year. Brunei, Malaysia, Taiwan and Vietnam also have claims.

Lieutenant Jeffrey Collado told broadcasters ABS-CBN and GMA the steel-hulled Chinese fishing boat, flying a Philippine flag, tried to escape after ramming the Coast Guard boat but another vessel arrived to help stop the Chinese boat.

“The Chinese fishing boat was in Philippine territorial waters, they are not in disputed seas,” he said, adding the 10 fishermen would be charged with illegal fishing.

Tension between the Philippines and China has risen as an international tribunal in the Hague prepares to deliver a ruling in the next few months in a case lodged by Manila in 2013.

The Philippines is seeking a clarification of United Nations maritime laws that could undermine China’s claims to 90 percent of the South China Sea. China has rejected the court’s authority.

Reporting by Manuel Mogato; Editing by Nick Macfie

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