Philippine ships 'harassed' by Chinese coast guard again

The Philippine Coast Guard says Chinese coast guard ships caused damage to its vessel after they opened fire with water cannons in the South China Sea. This is the latest clash between Philippine and Chinese vessels in the disputed waters.

The officials say the Philippine vessel was patrolling together with another government ship on Tuesday morning near the contested Scarborough Shoal when they encountered Chinese coast guard and militia vessels.

A Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson said the Philippine vessels had violated the country's sovereignty and that their ships took necessary measures to expel them.

The spokesperson said, "China calls on Manila to stop its provocative actions, and not to challenge Beijing's firm determination to safeguard its sovereignty."

Manila says that China recently reinstalled a floating barrier blocking the entrance into the shoal.

It says the Scarborough Shoal falls inside the Philippines' exclusive economic zone and the waters around it have long been a traditional fishing area for Filipinos.

Beijing has been increasingly flexing its muscles within contested areas as it attempts to lay claim to almost the entire South China Sea.