West Philippine Sea

Countries criticize China after latest water cannon use in Bajo de Masinloc

Bea Cupin

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Countries criticize China after latest water cannon use in Bajo de Masinloc

BAJO DE MASINLOC. A China Coast Guard ship uses its water cannons against a Philippine Coast Guard vessel.

Philippine Coast Guard

(2nd UPDATE) The US, in a post by its top envoy in Manila, says the Philippines can 'count on' its treaty-ally’s support ‘to uphold freedom of navigation and international law’

MANILA, Philippines – Envoys of different foreign countries, including treaty-ally the United States, criticized China for “disrupting” a Philippine mission to Bajo de Masinloc, a feature in the West Philippine Sea just over 120 nautical miles off the coast of Zambales on Tuesday, April 30. 

The European Union’s top envoy in Manila criticized Beijing’s behavior which he said is “against international law.” 

“Dangerous maneuvers, water cannoning, floating barrier, or any aggressive behaviors, is a threat to safety of life at sea, the freedom of navigation, and the prohibition of the use of force or coercion,” EU Ambassador to Manila Luc Veron said in a post on X (formerly Twitter), reposting a statement issued by Philippine Coast Guard spokesperson for the West Philippine Sea Commodore Jay Tarriela. 

On Tuesday, April 30, three China Coast Guard (CCG) vessels used their water cannons against vessels of the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) and the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG). 

One of the PCG ships, subject to the water cannons of two CCG vessels, reportedly sustained damaged, according to the Philippines. 

The two Philippines ships were in Bajo de Masinloc for a maritime patrol and to bring supplies to fisherfolk in the area. Known also as Panatag or Scarborough Shoal, it is located just over 100 nautical miles off the coast of Zambales. 

In a separate statement, France’s embassy in Manila said it was “concerned” over the incident.

“France renews its call for respect of the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea and of freedom of navigation. We oppose any threat or use of force contrary to international law and recall the importance of resolving disputes through dialogue. We also recall the decision rendered by the Arbitral Court on July 12, 2016,” the embassy said in a statement. 

New Zealand, in a statement, said it was “concerned by actions of Chinese vessels towards the Philippines.”

“Obstructing civilian boats and the use of water cannons on PCG vessels risks safety and undermines regional stability. We call for peaceful resolution of disputes in full accordance with UNCLOS,” the embassy of New Zealand in Manila added.

China claims almost all of the South China Sea, ignoring a 2016 arbitral award that deemed its claim invalid. 

The same award determined that Bajo de Masinloc was the common fishing area for fisherfolk from the Philippines, China, and Vietnam. That means nobody should be obstructing fisherfolk from accessing the shoal and the calm waters of its lagoon. 

The PCG said that the CCG, like it has done in the past, placed a floating barrier at the mouth of the shoal entrance. 

Washington, a treaty-ally of Manila, reiterated its support of the Philippines following the incident.

“The PRC used dangerous maneuvers and water cannons to disrupt a lawful Philippine mission providing food and fuel to fisherfolk within the [Philippine] EEZ. The Philippines can count on US support as #FriendsPartnersAllies to uphold freedom of navigation and international law,” US Ambassador to Manila MaryKay Carlson said.

British Ambassador to Manila Laure Beaufils, in a post on X, said the United Kingdom “condemns today’s dangerous actions by Chinese vessels against [Philippine] Coast Guard and Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources near Scarborough Shoal.”

“We reiterate our call for respect for UNCLOS and adherence to the 2016 Arbitral Award, which is legally binding on the parties,” she added.

Marielle Geraedts, the Netherlands’ envoy to Manila, said China’s “dangerous actions…are not in line with international law.”

“We reiterate the importance of abiding by UNCLOS and the 2016 arbitral award,” she said. 

Australian Ambassador HK Yu said “China’s dangerous maneuvers and obstruction encountered by Philippine Government vessels in the South China Sea – today at Scarborough Shoal – create risks of miscalculation and endanger peace.”

She added, “Disputes must be resolved peacefully under UNCLOS.”

Late Tuesday, the official X account of Japan’s ambassador to Manila expressed concern over the incident and said China’s actions, including the use of water cannons, “undermines the safety” of the PCG and BFAR ships and crew. 

In a post past midnight of Wednesday, May 1, German Ambassador to Manila Andreas Pfaffernoschke said they were “concerned” about the recent incident. “Use of force is never the solution. International law must prevail,” he said. 

Canadian Ambassador to the Philippines David Hartman said Ottawa was also concerned over China’s actions.  – Rappler.com

1 comment

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  1. RB

    Countries need to stop ‘being concerned’. China doesn’t care. Our concerns mean nothing. Instead try to remove China from the UN security council as security to China only means theirs, not anyone else s.

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Bea Cupin

Bea is a senior multimedia reporter who covers national politics. She's been a journalist since 2011 and has written about Congress, the national police, and the Liberal Party for Rappler.