MANILA (Dec 9): The Philippines accused the Chinese coast guard today of firing water cannons to “obstruct” three government boats delivering provisions to Filipino fishermen near a China-controlled reef in the South China Sea.
The National Task Force for the West Philippine Sea said in a statement that “Chinese Coast Guard ships utilized water cannons to obstruct” government vessels from delivering fuel and food supplies to fishing boats.
The incident happened near Scarborough Shoal, a flashpoint between Manila and Beijing, which claims almost the entire waterway.
Video released by the Philippine Coast Guard showed China Coast Guard ships shooting water cannons at Philippine Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources vessels, hitting them with the powerful blasts of water.
China snatched control of Scarborough Shoal from the Philippines in 2012.
Since then, Beijing has deployed patrol boats that Manila says harass Philippine vessels and prevent Filipino fishermen from reaching the lagoon where fish are more plentiful.
Scarborough Shoal is 240 kilometres west of the Philippines’ main island of Luzon and nearly 900 kilometres from the nearest major Chinese land mass of Hainan.
Under the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, which China helped negotiate, countries have jurisdiction over the natural resources within about 200 nautical miles or 370 kilometres of their shore. – AFP