China escalates tension with the Philippines.

On Tuesday, tensions escalated once again between China and the Philippines in the disputed South China Sea, as China’s coast guard reportedly used water cannons to damage a Philippine vessel. The incident occurred during a routine patrol near Scarborough Shoal, a rocky outcrop controlled by China but located within the Philippines’ exclusive economic zone.

Video footage provided by the Philippine Coast Guard depicted two larger Chinese vessels firing water cannons at the Philippine ship from opposite directions. According to Commodore Jay Tarriela, spokesperson for the Philippine Coast Guard, the Philippine vessels faced dangerous maneuvers and obstruction from a total of four China Coast Guard vessels and six Chinese Maritime Militia vessels.

Although the Philippine Coast Guard ship sustained damage to its railing and canopy, fortunately, no injuries were reported. In response, the China Coast Guard stated on the social platform Weibo that it expelled the Philippine vessels for trespassing into Chinese waters, citing adherence to national law.

This incident is the latest in a series of confrontations between the two countries over territorial disputes in the South China Sea. Beijing claims sovereignty over nearly the entire region, a stance that defies a ruling by an international court. Over the past twenty years, China has undertaken significant military infrastructure projects on various reefs and atolls throughout the South China Sea, extending its influence far beyond its mainland.

Scarborough Shoal, also known as Huangyan Island or Bajo de Masinloc, holds strategic importance as both a reef and a prime fishing area. Despite lacking any permanent structures, China has maintained a continuous coast guard presence around the shoal since 2012, as reported by the Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative.

Furthermore, the Philippines reported that China recently reinstated a 380-meter floating barrier that effectively blocks access to the shoal’s entrance, further exacerbating tensions in the region.

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