China's Coast Guard fires water cannon towards Philippines boat
Bejing has been embroiled in global backlash after footage emerged of a coastguard vessel using a powerful water cannon against a much smaller Phillipine boat.
The incident, which took place in the South China Sea on Saturday, “has worsened already stressed regional tensions”, analysts believe. They think it may drive the US and its allies to speed up plans for coordinated patrols.
Footage from the Philippines shows a large Chinese Coast Guard ship employing a water cannon at a significantly smaller Philippine vessel.
The latter was transporting provisions to a Philippine marine garrison stationed at Second Thomas Shoal, a location within Manila’s exclusive economic zone.
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China, on the other hand, refers to this feature as Renai Reef and claims ownership.
Furthermore, photographs obtained by the Philippine Coast Guard show that the Chinese ship manoeuvred dangerously near to the Philippine Coast Guard vessels following the resupply boats.
Officials from the Philippine coast guard and diplomats held a press conference on Monday, during which they presented videos and images allegedly showcasing six Chinese coast guard ships and two militia vessels obstructing two civilian boats chartered by the Philippine Navy.
Only one of the two Philippine boats successfully managed to deliver essential provisions such as food, water, and fuel to the Philippine forces responsible for guarding the shoal.
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In the midst of the confrontation, two Philippine coast guard vessels, tasked with escorting the supply boats, encountered interference from the Chinese coast guard ships at close proximity.
Threats of water cannon usage were directed towards the Philippine vessels. During this time, three Chinese navy ships maintained a close presence, as noted by Philippine coast guard Commodore Jay Tarriela.
Jonathan Malaya of the country’s National Security Council said: “This was like a David and Goliath situation.”
Malaya emphasized that the Philippines would not withdraw its forces from Second Thomas Shoal.
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In Beijing, the Chinese coast guard acknowledged its ships used water cannons against the Philippine vessels, which it said strayed without authorization into the shoal, which Beijing calls Ren’ai Jiao.
It accused the Philippines of reneging on a pledge to remove the grounded Filipino warship from the shoal.
The Chinese coast guard said: “In order to avoid direct blocking and collisions when repeated warnings were ineffective, water cannons were used as a warning. The on-site operation was professional and restrained, which is beyond reproach.”
“China will continue to take necessary measures to firmly safeguard its territorial sovereignty.”
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