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Philippines accuses China Coast Guard of firing water cannons at vessels

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The Philippines said on Tuesday (Apr 30) the China Coast Guard fired water cannon at two of its vessels, damaging one of them, during a patrol near a reef off the Southeast Asian country.

The incident was reported near Scarborough Shoal, a contested feature in the South China Sea.

The Philippines considers it within its exclusive economic zone, an area where it has special rights regarding resources. However, China also claims the shoal to be its part.

“This damage serves as evidence of the forceful water pressure used by the China Coast Guard in their harassment of the Philippine vessels,” a statement issued by the Philippine Coast Guard said.

The Philippine statement further alleges that the Chinese Coast Guard re-established a 380-meter barrier at the entrance to the shoal, a traditional fishing ground for Filipino fishermen, effectively blocking access to the waters within.

China and Philippines in past had said they would seek better communications and management around skirmishes in the vast South China Sea, but tensions have increased recently.

China claims almost the entire South China Sea, a conduit for more than $3 trillion of annual ship-borne commerce, including parts claimed by the Philippines, Vietnam, Indonesia, Malaysia and Brunei. The Permanent Court of Arbitration in 2016 said China’s claims had no legal basis.

(With inputs from agencies)

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