Philippines accuses China of new water cannon attacks in South China Sea

Manila has accused the Chinese coast guard of firing water cannon at one of its supply ships, the latest incident between the two countries in the disputed South China Sea.

The conflict, which lasted nearly an hour on Saturday morning, occurred as the Philippine military tried to resupply a small group of sailors aboard the sunken Sierra Madre near Second Thomas Shoal, the Philippine military said.

The shoal, known as Ayungin in the Philippines, has been the scene of several similar confrontations in recent months. It is about 200 kilometers (124 miles) from Palawan Island in the western Philippines and more than 1,000 kilometers (621 miles) from Hainan Island in southern China.

The military released video footage showing a white vessel marked with the Chinese Coast Guard crossing the bow of a gray vessel identified as the Philippine supply ship Unaiza on May 4 and firing water cannon.

“The UM4 supply ship suffered severe damage at approximately 08:52 (00:52 GMT) as a result of sustained water cannon fire from a CCG vessel,” the military said in a statement, without elaborating on the damage.

A Philippine Coast Guard escort vessel later arrived at the stricken vessel “to provide assistance,” the military said.

China Coast Guard spokesman Gan Yu said the Philippine fleet “ignored China’s repeated warnings and route controls and forced its way into the waters,” adding that China “controlled, obstructed and drove away in accordance with the law.”

China claims sovereignty over nearly the entire South China Sea, although the International Court of Justice ruled in 2016 that the nine-dash line on which its claim was based was unfounded. The Philippines, Brunei, Malaysia and Vietnam also claim waters off their coasts. The self-governing island of Taiwan is also a claimant.

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As tensions grew, Manila restored and expanded military ties with its long-time ally, the United States.

The United States has not claimed sovereignty over this strategic waterway, but has sent naval vessels to perform transit missions through the waterway. The so-called “freedom of navigation” operation has been criticized by China.

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken visited the Philippines last week and stressed that the U.S. commitment to Manila was “ironclad.”

Two days after that visit, the Chinese Coast Guard also attempted to expel Filipino scientists who landed on two coral reefs near Scarborough Shoal. Scarborough Shoal is a disputed South China Sea outcrop that Beijing seized from the Philippines in 2012 after a months-long standoff.

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By Ali Raza

I am a dedicated and skilled News Content Writer with a passion for delivering accurate and engaging stories to a diverse audience. With a solid background in journalism and a keen eye for detail, I bring a commitment to excellence and a deep understanding of the evolving media landscape.

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