Philippines says Chinese coastguard blocked and fired water cannon on two of its supply ships inside its exclusive economic zone.
Three ships from the Chinese coastguard blocked and fired water cannons on two Philippines supply boats within the country’s exclusive economic zone (EEZ) in the disputed South China Sea, the Philippines has said.
Foreign Minister Teodoro Locsin said the incident took place near Ayungin Shoal (Second Thomas Shoal) on November 16 and the Philippine vessels, which were taking food supplies to military personnel stationed nearby, were forced to abandon the mission. No injuries were reported.
“The acts of the Chinese coast guard vessels are illegal,” Locsin said in a statement shared on social media by the Foreign Ministry. “China has no law enforcement rights in and around these areas. They must take heed and back off.”
China claims nearly the entire South China Sea based on its so-called ‘nine-dash line’ that the international court ruled without merit five years ago. Beijing has ignored the ruling, instead building artificial islands and deploying its navy, coastguard, and fleets of fishing vessels to the disputed sea, which is also claimed by the Philippines, Malaysia, Vietnam, Brunei, and Taiwan.
Locsin accused China of failing to exercise self-restraint and said he had conveyed Manila’s “outrage, condemnation and protest” over the incident to the Chinese ambassador.
Ayungin Shoal is part of the Kalayaan islands and within the Philippines EEZ, which stretches 370km (200 nautical miles) from its coast.
Earlier this year, the Philippines complained about the weeks-long presence of dozens of vessels from China’s so-called ‘maritime militia’ at Whitsun Reef, which lies about 320 kilometres (175 nautical miles) west of Palawan Island within its EEZ.
In 2012, China forcibly took control of Scarborough Reef, which lies 229km (124 nautical miles) from the Philippine island of Luzon.