Filtered By: Topstories

US backs Philippines' call vs. aggressive Chinese acts in West Philippine Sea

US backs Philippines' call vs. aggressive Chinese acts in West Philippine Sea

The United States has backed the Philippines' series of protests against provocative Chinese actions in the West Philippine Sea, where China blocked Filipino resupply missions and sent 200 of its militia vessels to swarm a reef within the country's waters.

"We share the Philippines’ concerns regarding the PRC’s provocative actions interfering with Philippine sovereign rights within the Philippine exclusive economic zone near Second Thomas Shoal and massing vessels near Whitsun Reef," US State Department spokesperson Ned Price said in a statement on June 17. PRC stands for People's Republic of China.

"The United States supports the Philippines in calling on the PRC to end its provocative actions and to respect international law in the South China Sea."

Last week, the Department of Foreign Affairs accused China of illegal fishing and preventing Philippine vessels on a resupply mission to Ayungin Shoal (Second Thomas Shoal) by using fishing nets and buoys.

A Philippine Naval vessel – the BRP Sierra Madre – has been grounded at Ayungin Shoal since 1999. The ship manned by more than a dozen Marines and sailors has become a symbol of Philippine sovereignty in the offshore territory. It is 105.77 nautical miles from the nearest Philippine province of Palawan and constitutes part of the country’s 200-nautical mile continental shelf as provided under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea.

In another reef, at least 200 Chinese militia vessels were sighted around Julian Felipe, also known as Whitsun Reef, which is within the Philippines’ exclusive econonic zone.

Price said China's recent actions "are part of a broader trend of PRC provocations against South China Sea claimants and other states lawfully operating in the region."

China, which considers nearly 90% of the South China Sea, including areas within the West Philippine Sea, as part of its territory, has denied any wrongdoing.

Although Washington is not a party to the disputes, it has declared that it is in its national interest to ensure freedom of navigation and overflight in the contested waters where Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei and Taiwan also have overlapping claims.

The Philippines also has a Mutual Defense Treaty with the United States, which binds the two allies to come to each other’s aid from aggression and help defend the other party.

"The United States stands with our ally, the Philippines, in upholding the rules-based international order and freedom of navigation in the South China Sea, as guaranteed under international law," Price said.

GMA News contacted the Chinese Embassy for statement but it has yet to issue one. —KG, GMA News