China has sent more ships to the disputed Scarborough Shoal.
The Philippine military on Thursday accused China of sending more ships to a disputed shoal in the South China Sea, describing the move as an insult that would further inflame tensions.
Four Chinese surveillance ships and 10 fishing boats have anchored off the disputed Scarborough Shoal, with the fishermen taking giant clams and corals that are protected under Philippine law, a regional military spokesman said.
It is the largest number of Chinese vessels seen at the shoal since the two countries began a sovereignty standoff there almost a month ago, according to Major Loel Egos, whose northern command covers the area.
"They are just worsening the insult, bringing in all these fishing boats and all we can do is resort to diplomacy," Egos told AFP.
"They really want to test what a little country like the Philippines can do against a giant."
Egos said the Philippines, which has one of the weakest militaries in the region, has just two coast guard ships and a fisheries bureau vessel at the shoal that are unable to do anything about the Chinese fishing.Traditionally, a nation with a weak navy could enlist the aid of privateers. Not anymore. However, actions like this merely push other Asian nations to unite against China, who is viewed as a bully in this and similar cases. China, however, is betting that the U.S. will not be willing to push the issue too hard.