The Philippines has accused China of using water cannons to block three of its ships, in the latest territorial dispute between the two countries in the South China Sea.
Video footage shows Chinese ships firing powerful explosions from the water towards Philippine government ships.
The Philippines described China’s actions as “illegal and aggressive.”
The South China Sea is at the heart of the territorial dispute between China, the Philippines and other countries.
The incident occurred near Scarborough Shoal, a flashpoint between the two countries. Beijing seized control of the shoal in 2012, and Chinese boats have since harassed Filipino fishermen in the area.
The National Task Force for the West Philippine Sea said that “Chinese Coast Guard vessels used water cannons to prevent” government ships from delivering fuel and food supplies to fishing boats.
The agency said it “strongly condemns the illegal and aggressive actions.”
Beijing said it used what it called “surveillance measures” on ships that infiltrated its waters.
On Sunday, the Philippines plans to send a Christmas convoy of about 40 boats to distribute gifts and other supplies to people on Thitu Island, the Philippines’ largest occupied island in the South China Sea.
Disagreement between the two countries over competing claims to sovereignty has grown since Ferdinand Marcos Jr. became president of the Philippines last year.
Last month, the Philippines carried out two separate joint air and sea patrols with the United States, and with Australia a few days ago.
An international court invalidated China’s claim to 90% of the South China Sea in 2016, but Beijing does not recognize the ruling and has been building islands in the disputed waters in recent years.
The disputed waters have also become a maritime flashpoint in Sino-US relations, and in October, US President Joe Biden warned that the US would defend the Philippines in the event of an attack.
President Biden’s statements came days after a collision between two Filipino and Chinese ships in the waters.
Taiwan, Malaysia, Vietnam and Brunei also claim parts of the sea.
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