Shoal territorial dispute: ‘Bling-bling beef’ on the South China Sea

The patrol vessel belonged to the Philippines’ National Seafarers’ Home.

A Philippine coast guard vessel was forced to duck for cover after Chinese coast guard vessels sprayed it with water cannon and tear gas on Tuesday as it fended off a Chinese-occupied group of shoals near an artificial island in the South China Sea.

The confrontation followed days of maritime noise rising between Taiwan and China and heightening fears about potential conflict in the strategically vital sea.

Media reports from the Philippines and Taiwan suggest China has been building on Woody Island in the South China Sea in an area the two sides claim.

Images of the confrontation, which took place near the Scarborough Shoal, show the coast guard vessel exposing its guns as it sails into the choppy waters of the shoal.

Chinese ships then pepper the Philippine vessel with water cannon and tear gas in the remote area.

The photos show a man sitting on top of a Chinese-patrolled dredger, running away as the water mains sprays the vessel.

A majority of the crew members can be seen peeling themselves off the hull as the water is sprayed directly into the cabin, drawing fire from the coast guard.

The incident was captured by around 10 Philippine coast guard helicopters that have been patrolling around the disputed region, The Guardian reported.

The coast guard vessel belonging to the Philippines’ National Seafarers’ Home managed to duck into a coral reef area as it drove back the Chinese coast guard vessel that had its guns pointed in its direction.

“We were assaulted,” Coast Guard Commander Titus Barea told The Guardian.

The Philippines, Taiwan and Vietnam also claim parts of the sea. It is thought that around 30 percent of the world’s shipping tonnage passes through the region.

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