Sky News witnesses confrontation in disputed South China Sea

Sky News witnesses confrontation in disputed South China Sea

Sky News has witnessed a confrontation in the South China Sea as a Chinese coastguard used a water cannon on a vessel our journalists were reporting from.

The incident – which caused damage to a canopy on Philippine Coastguard BRP Bagacay – happened just outside the Scarborough Shoal.

China claims almost the entire South China Sea as its own, including the Shoal.

Pic: @jaytaryela

Pic: @jaytaryela
Pic: @jaytaryela

Sky’s Asia correspondent Cordelia Lynch was on the BRP Bagacay.

“I’m surrounded by a broken roof because the Chinese coastguard… has been directly firing water cannons at us,” she said.

“This has long been a game of brinkmanship between China and the Philippines. They both lay claim to this waterway.

“This is something that could easily take a turn for the worst.”

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It comes as China’s coastguard said it had “expelled” a Philippine coastguard ship and another vessel from waters adjacent to the Scarborough Shoal.

This is the latest incident to happen between the two countries at the disputed atoll.

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The two countries have repeatedly clashed in recent months at the submerged reef, which the Philippines says is in its exclusive economic zone but which China also claims as its own.

Both have also traded accusations over aggressive manoeuvres there and the Philippines recently summoned a Chinese diplomat over the actions.

“China’s territorial sovereignty and maritime rights and interests in the South China Sea are solidly grounded in international law and pose no threat to any country,” said foreign affairs spokesman Lin Jian last month.

He claimed the Philippines had escalated the situation recently by making “infringements and provocations” and spreading disinformation.

The spokesman said China had “firmly safeguarded its own territorial sovereignty” and tried to “handle maritime disputes through dialogue and consultation”.