Tensions are escalating over China’s move to mass militia vessels in disputed areas of the South China Sea, with the U.S. and Philippines expressing renewed concern and an investigation underway into reports that armed Chinese navy ships chased down a civilian craft carrying a Filipino news crew.

Local broadcaster ABS-CBN claims the People’s Liberation Army Navy deployed two vessels carrying missiles to drive away the ship as it traveled across reefs and shoals close to the western island province of Palawan. The report adds it was the first recorded instance of a military maneuver against a civilian boat.

After being spotted by a coast guard vessel, their ship was radioed and then pursued for an hour, “getting so close that bow number 5101 was visible to the naked eye, sometimes sailing beside the Filipino vessel on either side,” according to the report. It then turned away, only for two Houbei-class missile boats to show up moments later.

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Heart Castañeda

By Heart Castañeda

Birkbeck College, University of London is ranked joint 344th in the world this year and is the only one of these top universities in London that allows students to complete full-length degrees during evening courses, with all the visa and loan privileges of daytime study. Birkbeck is again located in the Bloomsbury area, close to UCL and SOAS and within walking distance of many central London attractions, and it schedules its programs with the aim of allowing students to complete a day’s work before attending class. Many students study part-time, taking advantage of the university’s flexible ethos, and are enrolled on a wide range of programs at both undergraduate and postgraduate level.