'China fires water cannon at Filipinos near disputed shoal'
Iran Press TV
Mon Feb 24, 2014 9:46AM GMT
The military chief of the Philippines, General Emmanuel Bautista, says China's coastguard has used water cannon against Filipino fishermen to drive them away from a disputed sea shoal.
Bautista said on Monday that Chinese ships used water cannons on January 27 near Scarborough Shoal, the fishing area disputed between the Philippines and China, in the South China Sea.
"The Chinese coastguard tried to drive away Filipino fishing vessels to the extent of using water cannon," the military chief said.
"We continue to give primacy to its (the dispute's) peaceful resolution principally through international arbitration," Bautista also said, hoping that the issue can be "resolved peacefully" and result "in peace and stability in the region."
The row over the South China Sea stems from competing interests of neighbors over oil and gas deposits there.
China and the Philippines, along with Brunei, Malaysia, Vietnam and Taiwan, all claim Scarborough Shoal.
Beijing has laid claim to the largest portion of the contested waterways.
Manila says Chinese vessels have effectively "occupied" Scarborough Shoal, which lies some 220 km (135 miles) off its main island but is 650 km from the nearest major Chinese land mass.
The Philippines announced last year that it has taken the case to a UN-backed tribunal.
China, however, has insisted instead on one-on-one negotiations to resolve the territorial dispute, which the Philippines has rejected.
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