Philippine protest against China water cannon: The government of the Philippines on Tuesday strongly protested China’s water cannon attack on Filipino fishermen in the South China Sea nearly one month ago, saying such acts “escalate tensions” and “threaten the peace” in the region, according to reports.
The Philippine protest refers to an incident on January 27, when a Chinese Coast Guard vessel allegedly sprayed Philippine vessels with water cannon, plus nine other reported incidents of harassment that Filipinos have reported against patrolling Chinese ships, including incidents when they were barred from seeking shelter in the shoal during bad weather, said the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA).
While the actions of the Chinese was “alarming”, it did not warrant an immediate military response, Philippines Armed Forces spokesman Lt. Col. Ramon Zagala told reporters.
“I don’t think it would be appropriate if we send the Philippine Navy at this time. It will just escalate the situation,” said Zagala. “Rest assured that the Armed Forces will do its mandate when the time comes.”
The incident took place in the disputed Scarborough Shoal, also called Panatag Shoal, in the South China Sea, or West Philippine Sea.
Chinese Chargé d’Affaires Sun Xiangyang was summoned by the Philippines’ Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) and presented a note verbale protesting reported incidents of harassment that Chinese vessels had committed to prevent Filipinos from fishing in the area, said a Philippine Daily Inquirer report.
The protest was received by the Chinese chargé d’affaires. The new Chinese ambassador-designate Zhao Jinhua just arrived on Sunday night, and has not yet officially begun his tour of duty.
“Bajo de Masinloc is an integral part of the Philippines and over which the Philippines exercises sovereignty, sovereign rights and jurisdiction. Philippine fishing vessels have been routinely, continuously, and peacefully and sustainably fishing in Bajo de Masinloc,” said Assistant Foreign Secretary Raul Hernandez to reporters.
Philippine President Aquino told reporters he wanted the Chinese to explain why its Coast Guard had fired water cannon at the fishermen.
“We’re not sure at this point in time if we can call it their standard operating procedure because as of yesterday, we had fishermen inside the shoal who (were) not being harassed or intimidated by any entity,” he said.
Chinese Embassy spokesman Zhang Hua issued a statement rejecting the Philippine protest.
“We urge the Philippine side to work with the Chinese side to resolve differences through bilateral consultations and negotiations,” he said.
Zhang also reiterated China’s claim that it had “indisputable sovereignty” over the South China Sea. “Chinese government vessels are conducting regular patrols within China’s jurisdiction,” the spokesman said.