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Video: Chinese Water Cannon Breaks Bridge Windows on Philippine Boat

A crewmember aboard Unaizah May 4 receives medical attention after the water-cannon incident (Armed Forces of the Philippines)
A crewmember aboard Unaizah May 4 receives medical attention after the water-cannon incident (Armed Forces of the Philippines)

Published Mar 6, 2024 4:52 PM by The Maritime Executive

The Philippine armed forces have released more videos from yesterday's run-in between Philippine and Chinese vessels in the Spratly Islands, including footage of the moment when a Chinese water cannon shattered the bridge windows of a Philippine supply boat. Regional military commander Vice Admiral Alberto Carlos sustained minor hand injuries in the attack, according to Philippine outlet GMA 7. 

The China Coast Guard's actions resulted in minor injuries and vessel damage, but did not rise to the level at which Manila would ask for military help from the United States, Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. said Wednesday.

"I do not think that it is a time or the reason to invoke the [U.S.] Mutual Defense Treaty. However, we continue to view with great alarm this continuing dangerous maneuvers and dangerous actions that are being done against our seamen, our coast guard,” Marcos said in an interview during a trip to Australia. 

The U.S. State Department has reiterated that the treaty covers armed aggression at sea. “The United States reaffirms that Article IV of the 1951 US-Philippines Mutual Defense Treaty extends to armed attacks on Philippine armed forces, public vessels, or aircraft – including those of its Coast Guard – anywhere in the South China Sea,” a State Department spokesperson said in a statement Tuesday. 

The location of the run-in is within the Philippine exclusive economic zone (EEZ), and the Chinese mainland lies some 700 nautical miles to the north. China believes that the vast majority of the South China Sea is Chinese, despite the 200-mile maximum boundary laid out by the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea. In 2016, the Permanent Court of Arbitration in the Hague ruled that China's claim to sovereignty over Philippine waters was inconsistent with international law, but Beijing has ignored the ruling. 

"The responsibility for the incident lies completely with the Philippines," said Chinese foreign ministry spokeswoman Mao Ning at a press conference on Wednesday. "The so-called arbitral award on the South China Sea arbitration that the Philippines and a handful of countries regard as a benchmark goes against international law including UNCLOS and it is completely illegal, null and void."