Philippines accuses China of harassment in South China Sea

U.S. aircraft carriers return to South China Sea amid rising tensions


The Philippines on Tuesday accused China’s coast guard of harassment and of damaging two of its boats in a disputed area of the South China Sea, rejecting Beijing’s position that it had expelled those vessels from the hotly contested area.

The Philippines’ task force on South China Sea said a coast guard ship and a fisheries vessel were damaged by water cannons used by Chinese coast guard ships, as the vessels headed to Scarborough shoal, opens new tab to assist Filipino fishermen in the area.

The fisheries vessel was rammed thrice both by the Chinese coast guard and maritime vessels, the task force said.

No country has sovereignty over the strategically located Scarborough Shoal, a prime fishing patch close to major shipping lanes that is used by many countries. The shoal falls inside the Philippines’ exclusive economic zone (EEZ).

“These latest demonstrations of China’s illegal and irresponsible behaviour highlight their egregious disregard for the Philippines’ lawful exercise of its rights and entitlements in our own EEZ,” the Philippines task force said in a statement.

China claims sovereignty over much of the South China Sea. An international tribunal in 2016 said China’s expansive claim had no legal basis.

The Philippines said China’s latest actions raised the question of how sincere it was in efforts to reduce tensions in the waterway.

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