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A new video has emerged showing the Chinese coast guard unleashing a water cannon barrage on a Philippine boat on a supply mission to a contested outpost in the South China Sea. The video, published by local outlet GMA Integrated News, depicts crew members scrambling for cover as high-pressure streams of water flood the boat. The incident occurred as the supply boat, Uzaimah May 4, and two Philippine Coast Guard escorts were en route to deliver troops and supplies to Second Thomas Shoal, a reef claimed by both China and the Philippines. Despite the attacks leaving the boat disabled and causing injuries to passengers, Philippine marines stationed at the atoll managed to retrieve supplies and personnel.

China claims Second Thomas Shoal as its territory, although it lies within the Philippines’ internationally recognized exclusive economic zone (EEZ). The Philippine government released footage showing the China Coast Guard repeatedly using water cannons on the Uzaimah May 4, resulting in significant damage to the wooden boat. China insists that the Philippine presence at the atoll is illegal, referring to the grounding of a former U.S. tank landing ship, the BRP Sierra Madre, by the Philippines in 1999 as a violation of China’s territorial sovereignty. The Chinese embassy in the U.S. stated that Manila had promised to tow the ship away, but it remains in place after over 20 years.

An international court ruled in favor of Manila against Beijing’s claims within the Philippines’ EEZ in 2016, but China rejected the ruling, citing historical rights. Jeffrey Ordaniel, an associate professor at Tokyo International University, believes that without significant pushback from Philippine allies like the United States, China will continue to alter the status quo in the region. He called for the Philippines and the U.S. to consider imposing costs on China through measures such as joint freedom of navigation operations or U.S. Navy escorts on supply runs to Second Thomas Shoal. The Philippines Department of Foreign Affairs did not immediately respond to requests for comment on the recent incident.

The damage sustained by the Uzaimah May 4 during the water cannon attacks prompted calls for stronger action against China’s assertive behavior in the South China Sea. Manila condemned the attacks as a violation of international law and a threat to the safety and security of Philippine personnel. Efforts to protect Filipino interests in the disputed waters have been met with resistance from China, which continues to assert its territorial claims through actions like water cannon attacks on Philippine vessels. The incident highlights the ongoing tensions in the region and the need for a coordinated response from countries like the Philippines and the U.S. to counter China’s aggressive behavior in contested maritime territories.

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