China’s Aggressive Actions in South China Sea: Philippines Lodges Protest

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The DFA Summons Chinese Envoy Over Water Cannon Incident in the South China Sea

The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) summoned a senior Chinese envoy on Thursday to protest a water cannon incident that caused damage to two Philippine vessels during a patrol in the South China Sea. The incident took place near the disputed Bajo de Masinloc (Scarborough Shoal), an area where Manila and Beijing have had a long history of territorial disputes.

The Philippines and China have been involved in several maritime incidents in recent months as they assert their rival claims in the strategic waterway. The latest incident occurred during a mission to resupply Filipino fishermen near the China-controlled Scarborough Shoal.

Zhou Zhiyong, the number two official at the Chinese embassy, was summoned by Manila over “the harassment, ramming, swarming, shadowing and blocking, dangerous maneuvers, use of water cannons, and other aggressive actions of China Coast Guard and Chinese maritime militia vessels,” according to the DFA statement. The ministry added that China’s aggressive actions, particularly its use of water cannons, caused damage to the Philippines’ vessels, and demanded that the Chinese boats immediately leave the shoal and its vicinity.

The pressure from the water cannons used in the incident was far more powerful than anything previously experienced, tearing or bending metal sections and equipment on the Philippine vessels. This prompted Manila to lodge its 20th diplomatic protest of the year and the 153rd since President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. came to power in mid-2022, as stated by the DFA.

China’s coast guard had previously claimed to have “expelled” the two Philippine ships from its waters near Huangyan Island, the Chinese name for Scarborough Shoal. The shoal has been a flashpoint between the two countries since China seized it from the Philippines in 2012.

China claims almost the entire South China Sea, disregarding rival claims from other countries, including the Philippines, and an international ruling that declared its assertion to have no legal basis. Scarborough Shoal, a triangular chain of reefs and rocks, lies 240 kilometers west of the Philippines’ main island of Luzon and nearly 900 kilometers from Hainan, the nearest major Chinese land mass.

Since seizing the shoal, Beijing has deployed its coast guard and other vessels, which Manila accuses of harassing Philippine ships and preventing its fisherfolk from accessing the rich lagoon.

The latest incident occurred as the Philippines and the United States held a major annual military exercise that has angered Beijing. South Korea, through its embassy in Manila, joined other allies of the Philippines in expressing concern over the “recent dangerous maneuvers and use of water cannons against the Philippine vessels around Scarborough Shoal.”

“We reiterate the importance of upholding peace, stability, safety, and a rules-based maritime order in the South China Sea, a critical sea lane of communications for all countries that are using it,” the embassy said on Facebook.

The embassies of Australia, Canada, Germany, Japan, Sweden, the United Kingdom, and the United States in the Philippines also expressed concern over the dangerous actions by Chinese ships against the Philippine Coast Guard and the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources vessels near Scarborough Shoal. They reiterated their call for respect for the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea and adherence to the 2016 arbitral award, which invalidated China’s expansive claim in the South China Sea that encroached on the Philippines’ exclusive economic zone (EEZ).

The National Task Force for the West Philippine Sea, the Philippine government agency responsible for coordinating efforts to protect the country’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, has been closely monitoring the situation and taking appropriate actions to safeguard the country’s interests in the South China Sea.

Source: The Manila Times

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