Chinese Coast Guard uses water cannons on Philippine ship days after US backs Manila in disputed sea

Armed Forces of the Philippines

Still image from video released by the Armed Forces of the Philippines.

Hong Kong

The Chinese Coast Guard used water cannons against Filipino boats in a disputed area in the South China Sea on Saturday, in the latest in a series of naval clashes between the two countries.

The skirmishes come just days after US Secretary of State Antony Blinken reiterated Washington's commitment to defending the Philippines' access to the huge waterway, which China claims, sparking increasing clashes with its neighbors in recent years.

A video of the incident showed a Filipino civilian ship sustaining “severe damage” from a water cannon, according to the Armed Forces of the Philippines.

Agence France-Presse, too Accused The Chinese Coast Guard performed a “dangerous maneuver” by crossing the bow of a resupply ship before using a water cannon.

China then installed floating barriers “to further prevent the entry of any ships,” it said.

The agency said that a Philippine Coast Guard ship, a Chinese Coast Guard ship, and two Chinese maritime militia ships “hindered and surrounded it, isolating it from the resupply boat.”

The ship was “isolated from the resupply boat due to the irresponsible and provocative behavior of the Chinese Navy, which showed disregard for the Convention on International Regulations for the Prevention of Collisions at Sea,” Guy Tarella, spokesman for the Philippine Coast Guard, said in a statement. mail On X.

Beijing and Manila have long competed over Thomas Shoal II, which lies about 200 kilometers (125 miles) off the coast of the Philippine island of Palawan. In the 1990s, the Philippines grounded an old World War II-era naval transport ship called BRP Sierra Madre from the shoal, to help enforce its claim to the area. The ship is now mostly a rusty wreck and manned by rotating stationed Philippine Marines.

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Recently, clashes occurred when the Philippines attempted to resupply troops in the Sierra Madre.

The Armed Forces of the Philippines said it succeeded in resupplying the Sierra Madre, although one of the ships involved in the operation was unable to continue on its course.

in mail On the Chinese social media site Weibo, the Chinese Coast Guard said it had taken “monitoring measures in accordance with the law” against the Philippine ships, which it said had “illegally entered the waters adjacent to the Renai Reef.”

Ren'ai Reef is the name China gave to Second Thomas Shoal – an area the Philippines refers to as Ayungin Shoal.

The latest standoff came just four days after Secretary of State Blinken said at a news conference in Manila that the United States has a “firm commitment” to defending the Philippines in the South China Sea.

Speaking at a joint press conference with his Philippine counterpart, Blinken said the allies “have a shared concern about the actions of the People's Republic of China that threaten our shared vision of a free and open Indo-Pacific region, including the South China Sea.” And in the exclusive economic zone of the Philippines.

Blinken said the 1951 Mutual Defense Treaty, under which Washington committed to defending Manila from attack, is “strict” and “extends to armed attacks on the Armed Forces of the Philippines, public vessels, and aircraft — including those of the Coast Guard — in any event.” place. In the South China Sea.”

in Confrontation Two weeks ago, a Chinese Coast Guard vessel also used water cannons against a Filipino boat, shattering its glass panel and injuring four sailors.

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