China says sea clash with Philippines vessels ‘professional and restrained’

Philippine military says will send more supplies to disputed reef

China said on Monday that a maritime clash in which it fired water cannon at Philippine vessels in the disputed South China Sea was “professional and restrained”.

A foreign ministry spokesperson said a Chinese coast guard ship “lawfully stopped” two Philippine vessels, adding: “This professional and restrained on-site operation is beyond reproach.”

The incident happened on Saturday as the Philippine Coast Guard escorted charter boats carrying food, water, fuel and other supplies to Filipino military personnel stationed at Second Thomas Shoal in the Spratly Islands.

The intervention by China — which claims almost all of the South China Sea as its own sovereign territory — was criticised by Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos, who said on Monday that Manila had summoned Beijing’s ambassador.

The US State Department on Sunday condemned the Chinese vessels’ conduct, saying it directly threatened regional peace and stability.

China’s foreign ministry statement on Monday pushed back against Washington’s criticism, accusing the State Department of “disregarding the facts”.

“What the United States is doing is to blatantly support the Philippines’ violation of China’s sovereignty, and this plot is doomed to fail,” the statement said.

The Philippine military and coast guard have accused the China Coast Guard of breaking international law by blocking and firing water cannon at the resupply mission, preventing one of the charter boats from reaching the shoal.

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Agence France-Presse (AFP) is a French international news agency headquartered in Paris, France. Founded in 1835 as Havas, it is the world's oldest news agency.

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