The National Operational Unit for the Western Philippines said in a statement that "Chinese coast guard vessels used water cannons to impede boats" of the Philippine government supplying fishing boats. The incident occurred near Scarborough Shoal Reef, an area of tension between Manila and Beijing, which claims almost all of the South China Sea. In a video released by the Philippine Coast Guard, Chinese coast guard vessels appear firing water cannons at the vessels of the Philippine Bureau of Fisheries and Water Resources.
China took control of Scarborough Shoal in the Philippines in 2012. It has since deployed patrol boats that Manila says are harassing Philippine vessels and preventing Filipino fishermen from reaching the lagoon where fish are more abundant. Scarborough Shoal is 240 km west of the Philippines' main island, Luzon, and nearly 900 km from Hainan Province, the nearest Chinese land.
Under the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, which China helped negotiate, countries have jurisdiction over natural resources within a radius of about 200 nautical miles (370 kilometers) from their coasts.