Tuesday, April 23

Chinese coast guard uses water cannon on Philippine boat as tensions rise near Second Thomas Shoal

The Chinese coast guard fired a water cannon at a Philippine supply boat during a confrontation in the disputed South China Sea on Saturday, Philippine officials said.

Video released by the Philippine military shows two Chinese coast guard ships approaching the lone wooden vessel, the Unaizah May 4, near the Second Thomas Shoal, when they fired the water cannon at close range, Philippine officials said.

The Philippine military said without elaborating that its chartered boat “sustained significant damage.”

The confrontation was the second time the Unaizah May 4 was damaged by Chinese forces this month.

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The Philippine navy crew managed to maneuver past the Chinese coast guard blockade to deliver supplies to Philippine forces manning a territorial outpost on the nearby island.

During a similar confrontation on March 5, Chinese coast guard ships blasted the Unaizah May 4 with a high-pressure water cannon, shattering its windshield and slightly injuring a Filipino admiral and four of his men.

At the time, Beijing said its coast guard ships had responded after the Philippine vessels ignored warnings and encroached into what it claimed were its territorial waters.

The shoal, occupied by Philippine navy personnel since the late 1990s, has recently become the backdrop for an increasingly tense territorial standoff with the Chinese coast guard.

Aside from China and the Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia, Taiwan and Brunei also have overlapping claims to the resource-rich and busy waterway.

The United States has deployed Navy ships into the region to stabilize what it calls “freedom of navigation” operations. These have been repeatedly criticized by China.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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