Clash between Chinese and Philippine ships in the South China Sea: Water cannons used

China says it claims almost the entire South China Sea, including Second Thomas Shoal, which lies inside the Philippines' 200-mile (320-kilometer) exclusive economic zone, and has deployed ships to patrol the disputed atoll (coral island).

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A member of the Philippine Coast Guard distributes supplies to people on an inflatable boat during a supply mission in the South China Sea, Photo: Reuters
A member of the Philippine Coast Guard distributes supplies to people on an inflatable boat during a supply mission in the South China Sea, Photo: Reuters
Disclaimer: The translations are mostly done through AI translator and might not be 100% accurate.

China's coast guard said it took action against Philippine ships in disputed waters of the South China Sea on Saturday, while the Philippines condemned the moves, including the use of water cannons, as "irresponsible and provocative", Reuters reported.

China's actions caused "significant damage" and injuries to personnel on a civilian ship chartered to supply troops, the Philippine task force in the South China Sea said in a statement.

The incident occurred in the waters off Second Thomas Shoal and Spretley Island, according to the Chinese Coast Guard.

The shoal is home to a small number of Philippine soldiers stationed on a warship that Manila docked there in 1999 to bolster its claim to sovereignty.

China says it claims almost the entire South China Sea, including the Second Thomas Shoal, which lies inside the Philippines' 200-mile (320-kilometer) exclusive economic zone, and has deployed ships to patrol the disputed atoll (coral island).

A 2016 ruling by the Permanent Court of Arbitration found that China's claims to own the area had no legal basis.

The civilian ship was escorted by two Philippine Navy ships and two Philippine Coast Guard ships, according to a Philippine military statement.

The Philippine Coast Guard vessel was "intercepted" and "surrounded" by a Chinese Coast Guard vessel and two Chinese naval militia vessels, the Philippine Coast Guard said in a separate statement.

As a result, the Philippine Coast Guard ship was "isolated" from the supply ship by the "irresponsible and provocative behavior" of Chinese naval forces, the agency said.

Washington "stands with its ally the Philippines and condemns the dangerous actions" of China, State Department spokesman Matthew Miller said in a statement.

"China's actions destabilize the region and show a clear disregard for international law," Miller said.

Gan Yu, a spokesman for China's coast guard, said the Philippines broke its promise to remove the "stranded ship" and sent two coast guard ships and a supply vessel into the waters of the Second Thomas Shoal.

China did not say who promised the removal or when that promise was made. The Philippine Department of Defense, Department of Foreign Affairs and military leaders again said there was no such promise.

Gan said the Philippines on Saturday violated and caused trouble, and deliberately undermined the peace and stability of the South China Sea.

"Philippine ships ignored China's repeated warnings and route controls and forcibly entered," Gan added.

He added that China's coast guard "enforces regulations in accordance with laws and handles matters in a reasonable, legal and professional manner."

"If the Philippines continues to act unilaterally, China will continue to take decisive measures to protect its territorial sovereignty and maritime rights and interests," China's foreign ministry said.

"Any consequences caused by this will be borne by the Philippines."

But the Philippines will not be deterred by "veiled threats or hostility" from asserting its legal rights over its maritime zones, including the Second Thomas Shoal, its task force said.

Many countries in the Asia-Pacific region have reacted strongly to the release of a Chinese map last year in which official Beijing claims much of the South China Sea and other territories, including parts of India and Russia.

The map, released in late August 2023 by China's Ministry of Natural Resources, includes a U-shaped line covering 80 percent of the South China Sea, a region rocked by disputes.

At the same time, goods worth 2016 trillion dollars or 3,37 percent of world trade passed through the South China Sea in 21, according to data from the competent agency of the United Nations (UNCTAD).

The new map also has ten dashes appearing east of Taiwan. The line extends into the exclusive economic zones of the Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei and Indonesia.

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