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Philippines Summons Chinese Ambassador Over Water Cannon Incident

MANILA, Philippines – The Philippine authorities summoned China’s ambassador Monday and introduced a strongly worded diplomatic protest over the Chinese coast guard’s use of water cannons in a weekend confrontation with Philippine vessels within the disputed South China Sea, officers mentioned.

The tense hours-long standoff occurred Saturday close to Second Thomas Shoal, which has been occupied for many years by Philippine forces stationed onboard a rusting, grounded navy ship however can be claimed by China. It was the newest flareup in long-seething territorial conflicts within the South China Sea involving China, the Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia, Taiwan and Brunei.

The United States, the European Union, Australia and Japan expressed help for the Philippines and concern over the Chinese actions. Washington renewed a warning that it’s obliged to defend its longtime treaty ally if Philippine public vessels and forces come below armed assault, together with within the South China Sea.

Philippine coast guard and diplomatic officers held a news convention Monday at which they confirmed movies and images which they mentioned confirmed six Chinese coast guard ships and two militia vessels blocking two Philippine navy-chartered civilian boats taking provides to the Philippine forces at Second Thomas Shoal. One provide boat was hit with a robust water cannon by the Chinese coast guard, the Philippine army mentioned.

Only one of many two Philippine boats managed to ship meals, water, gas and different provides to the Philippine forces guarding the shoal, the officers mentioned.

During the confrontation, two Philippine coast guard ships escorting the availability boats have been additionally blocked by the Chinese coast guard ships at shut vary and have been threatened with water cannons. Three Chinese navy ships stood by at an in depth distance at one level, Philippine coast guard Commodore Jay Tarriela mentioned.

“This was like a David and Goliath situation,” Jonathan Malaya of the National Security Council mentioned.

Malaya emphasised that the Philippines wouldn’t withdraw its forces from Second Thomas Shoal.

Department of Foreign Affairs spokesperson Teresita Daza mentioned China’s ambassador to Manila, Huang Xilian, was summoned and handed a diplomatic protest by Philippine Undersecretary Theresa Lazaro.

In this handout picture offered by the Philippine Coast Guard, a Chinese coast guard ship makes use of water canons on a Philippine ship close to the Philippine-occupied Second Thomas Shoal, South China Sea, throughout its re-supply mission on Aug. 5, 2023.

In it, the Philippines advised China to cease its unlawful actions towards Philippine vessels within the South China Sea, cease interfering in reputable Philippine actions, and abide by worldwide legal guidelines, together with the 1982 U.N. Convention on the Law of the Seas, Daza mentioned.

In Beijing, the Chinese coast guard acknowledged its ships used water cannons towards the Philippine vessels, which it mentioned strayed with out authorization into the shoal, which Beijing calls Ren’ai Jiao. It accused the Philippines of reneging on a pledge to take away the grounded Filipino warship from the shoal.

China has lengthy demanded that the Philippines withdraw its naval personnel and tow away the nonetheless commissioned however crumbling ship, the BRP Sierra Madre. The ship was intentionally marooned on the shoal in 1999 and now serves as a fragile image of Manila’s territorial declare to the atoll.

The disputes within the South China Sea, one of many world’s busiest sea lanes, have lengthy been thought to be a possible flashpoint and have turn out to be a fault line within the rivalry between the United States and China within the area.

China claims possession over just about the whole South China Sea regardless of a global ruling that invalidated its claims in 2016 by an arbitration tribunal arrange below the U.N. Convention on the Law of the Sea. China rejects that ruling and continues to defy it.

The U.S. State Department mentioned in a press release Sunday that by “firing water cannons and employing unsafe blocking maneuvers, [Chinese] ships interfered with the Philippines’ lawful exercise of high seas freedom of navigation and jeopardized the safety of the Philippine vessels and crew.” It added that such actions are a direct menace to “regional peace and stability.’

While the U.S. lays no claims to the South China Sea, it has often criticized China’s aggressive actions and deployed its warships and fighter jets in patrols and military exercises with regional allies to uphold freedom of navigation and overflight, which it says are in America’s national interest.

China has told the U.S. to stop meddling in what it calls a purely Asian dispute and has warned of unspecified repercussions.

The Chinese Foreign Ministry accused the U.S. Monday of “threatening China” by elevating the potential for the U.S.-Philippines mutual protection treaty being activated.