The Philippines has accused China’s coastguard of using a water cannon to block a Philippine military supply boat in the South China Sea. The incident happened near the Second Thomas Shoal, which has been a source of territorial conflicts involving several countries, including China, the Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia, Taiwan, and Brunei.
China claims sovereignty over almost the entire South China Sea, a crucial sea lane, but a United Nations-backed tribunal had previously ruled against its expansive claim in 2016.
During the recent confrontation, navy personnel on two Philippine-chartered supply boats were heading towards the shoal, escorted by Philippine coastguard ships. However, a Chinese coastguard ship approached and used a powerful water cannon to prevent the vessels from delivering essential supplies like food, water, and fuel to the troops stationed on the reef.
The Philippines condemned this action as illegal, excessive, and dangerous, stating that it disregarded the safety of the people on board the Philippine navy-chartered boat and violated international law, including the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea.
The Chinese coastguard’s maneuvers and offensive actions disrupted the mission of one of the Philippine boats. The Philippines called on the China Coast Guard and the Central Military Commission to act responsibly and avoid actions that could lead to accidents and endanger lives.
As of now, it’s not confirmed if any Filipino sailors were injured during the incident.
In response to the accusations, China’s Coast Guard spokesperson asserted their “indisputable” sovereignty over the Spratly Islands and the surrounding waters, including the Second Thomas Shoal. They urged the Philippines to cease any activities in that area that they consider infringing on their territorial claims.