Chinese ships fire water cannon, block PH resupply mission but…
MANILA, Philippines — A Chinese vessel again used the water cannon to drive away a Philippine boat in the West Philippine Sea, the National Task Force-West Philippine Sea (NTF-WPS) said Friday.
But the NTF-WPS also said that the Chinese Coast Guard’s (CCG) attempt to change the route of the military-commissioned resupply vessel failed.
The Philippine boat was on a resupply mission Friday to the grounded BRP Sierra Madre on Ayungin Shoal in the West Philippine Sea (WPS).
“CCG vessel 5203 deployed water cannon against Philippine supply vessel M/L Kalayaan in an illegal though unsuccessful attempt to force the latter to alter course,” the NTF-WPS said in a statement.
It also said CCG vessels and suspected Chinese maritime militia ships “recklessly harassed, blocked, executed dangerous maneuvers in another attempt to illegally impede or obstruct a routine resupply and rotation mission to BRP Sierra Madre.”
Last August, the CCG also used water cannon against Philippine Coast Guard vessels escorting boats delivering supplies to BRP Sierra Madre.
The BRP Sierra Madre hosts a small contingent of military personnel. It was grounded on Ayungin Shoal in 1999 to assert Manila’s claim on the sandbank that is located about 194 kilometers (105 nautical miles) from Palawan province.
The CCG, however, claimed that the Philippine vessels “trespassed” Ayungin Shoal even if the sandbank is well within the Philippines’ exclusive economic zone.
“We urge the Philippine side to stop its infringement behavior immediately,” CCG spokesperson Gan Yu said in a statement Friday, adding that they “tracked and monitored the ships, took regulatory measures, and made temporary special arrangements for the Philippines to deliver food and other daily necessities.”
But the spokesperson did not mention the CCG’s use of water cannon against the Philippine vessels.
He said the CCG “will continue to carry out law enforcement activities in the waters under China’s jurisdiction in accordance with the law, and resolutely safeguard China’s national sovereignty and maritime rights and interests.”
Yu even insisted that Beijing has an “indisputable sovereignty” over the entire Spratly Islands including the Ayungin Shoal.
Beijing has been asserting its sovereignty over nearly the entire South China Sea, including the WPS, through its 10-dash line that used to be a nine-dash line.
But a July 2016 Arbitral Award effectively dismissed China’s nine-dash line claim.
China has continuously defied the Arbitral Award.
China’s ‘unprovoked’ acts ‘consistent’, ‘systematic’
The NTF-WPS nevertheless maintained that the Philippines’ actions in the WPS are in line with international laws such as the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, and the 2016 Arbitral Award.
It condemned China’s “unprovoked acts” and described such behaviors as “consistent” and “systematic.”
“We condemn, once again, China’s latest unprovoked acts of coercion and dangerous maneuvers against a legitimate and routine Philippine rotation and resupply mission to Ayungin Shoal, that has put the lives of our people at risk,” the NTF-WPS said.
“The systematic and consistent manner in which the People’s Republic of China carries out these illegal and irresponsible actions puts into question and significant doubt the sincerity of its calls for peaceful dialogue.”
“Peace and stability cannot be achieved without due regard for the legitimate, well-established, and legally settled rights of others,” it likewise said.
“We demand that China demonstrate that it is a responsible and trustworthy member of the international community,” it added.