WASHINGTON - The United States on Tuesday said it stood with the Philippines, in its concerns over the gathering of China's 'maritime militia' vessels near Whitsun Reef in the South China Sea, urging Beijing to stop such actions.
"We call on Beijing to stop using its maritime militia to intimidate and provoke others, which undermines peace and security," State Department spokesman Ned Price said in a statement.
The U.S. stands with our ally, the Philippines, regarding concerns about the gathering of PRC maritime militia vessels near Whitsun Reef. We call on Beijing to stop using its maritime militia to intimidate and provoke others, which undermines peace and security.— Ned Price (@StateDeptSpox) March 23, 2021
The Philippines on Tuesday demanded the immediate withdrawal of dozens of Chinese vessels illegally moored within the West Philippine Sea, saying their lingering presence was a blatant infringement of the country's sovereignty, sovereign rights, and jurisdiction.
These vessels, it added, were conducting "environmentally destructive activities."
In a strongly-worded statement, the Department of Foreign Affairs said China's infringement violated international laws and regional agreements.
"The Philippines demands that China promptly withdraw its fishing vessels and maritime assets in the vicinity and adjacent waters of relevant features in the Kalayaan Group of Islands in the West Philippine Sea, and to direct its fishing vessels to desist from environmentally destructive activities," the DFA said.
From 220, around 183 Chinese militia vessels remain off Julian Felipe Reef (Whitsun Reef) in the West Philippine Sea. They were initially spotted on March 7.
The US on Tuesday backed the Philippines' latest protest against Chinese incursion in the West Philippine Sea.
"We stand with the Philippines, our oldest treaty ally in Asia," said US Embassy spokesman Heather Fabrikant in a statement.
The Chinese Embassy in Manila however on Tuesday flagged the US' support in protest against Chinese incursion in the West Philippine Sea, saying it might affect the "peace and stability" in the region.
"The United States is not a party to the South China Sea issue. Fanning flames and provoking confrontation in the region will only serve the selfish interests of individual country and undermine regional peace and stability," the Chinese Embassy in Manila wrote in a tweet. —Reuters/KG, GMA News