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The United States has condemned China for its “aggressive actions” in the South China Sea, including the use of water cannons and sound cannons against Philippine vessels.

State Department spokesperson Matthew Miller described China’s behavior as interference with “lawful Philippine maritime operations and in Philippine vessels’ exercise of high seas freedom of navigation.” He emphasized, “These actions reflect not only reckless disregard for the safety and livelihoods of Filipinos, but also for international law.”

Matthew Miller

More context:
The incident Miller is referring to escalated near Scarborough Shoal, where Chinese coast guard boats deployed high-pressure water cannons and sound cannons against three Philippine fisheries vessels, causing damage to their communication equipment. Further incidents were reported near Second Thomas Shoal, where China continued its aggressive tactics against Philippine supply boats, resulting in severe damage to two vessels. Even the resupply boats coming to aid were targeted, with one being rammed and grounded.

China responds:
In response, Mao Ning, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson, accused the Philippines of intruding on China’s territory and attempting to occupy the area. Mao Ning said, “We once again urge the Philippines to stop infringing on China’s sovereignty and making provocative moves, stop groundlessly attacking and smearing China, and avoid undermining peace and stability in the South China Sea.”

Philippines President Bongbong Marcos responded, saying, “The illegal presence in our waters and dangerous actions against our citizens is an outright and blatant violation of international law and the rules-based international order. The aggression and provocations perpetrated by the China Coast Guard and their Chinese Maritime Militia against our vessels and personnel over the weekend have only further steeled our determination to defend and protect our nation’s sovereignty, sovereign rights, and jurisdiction in the West Philippine Sea.”

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