Philippines says military transport vessels harassed by Chinese ships

The Philippines says it has lodged a protest with China, saying Philippine military transport vessels were harassed by Chinese ships in the South China Sea.

The Philippine National Security Council said on Friday that the Chinese ships fired a water cannon and came dangerously close to the Philippine vessels near the Spratly Islands.

The two countries have overlapping claims in the area.

In a statement, the council also said the transport vessels were headed to a military outpost, carrying replacement personnel and supplies.

The council said the site is in the Philippines' exclusive economic zone based on a decision by an international arbitration tribunal in 2016.
The council also said that while China calls for dialogue, it takes illegal and irresponsible actions systematically and continuously. It added that such actions pose questions about China's sincerity, and that Manila lodged a protest with Beijing.

A spokesperson for China's coast guard said in a statement that the country has undisputed sovereignty in waters around the Spratly Islands. The statement also said China's crackdown was based on law.

In the waters, Philippine transport boats were sprayed with a water cannon by a Chinese vessel in August, and ships of the two countries collided in October.