Philippine coast guard ships are at the center of a “high-risk” standoff between the United States and China near Scarborough Shoal, according to Pentagon officials.
Philippine vessels and Coast Guard “Coast Guard patrol boats are operating in that area,” Pentagon Press Secretary Peter Cook said in a statement Friday.
According to The Los Angeles Times, Chinese ships taunted and then fired water cannons at Philippine Coast Guard ships in a “seemingly unprovoked” attack. As an additional measure, Cook said, the Navy is continuing to monitor the situation and will take any necessary action.
Scarborough Shoal is 1,300 nautical miles west of Subic Bay. China claims sovereignty over the contested maritime area which it calls Huangyan Island. The Philippines has been fighting to enforce its claims in the area.
Meanwhile, The New York Times has reported that the Chinese Coast Guard has attacked with water cannons a dozen fishing boats owned by the Philippine Navy.
The stand-off follows President Trump’s meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping, where a handshake marred by personal entrenchment damaged the possibility of progress on the trade talks.