Japan and Australia on Tuesday expressed serious concerns over the Chinese coast guard's (CCG) use of military-grade laser against a Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) ship in Ayungin Shoal.
Japanese Ambassador to the Philippines, Koshikawa Kazuhiko, tweeted that all states should observe maritime order. He cited the Philippines' 2016 arbitral win over China in regards to overlapping claims in the South China Sea.
“We express serious concerns about dangerous behavior against PH vessels,” he said.
“All states should respect maritime order based on international law, in particular UNCLOS, and recall that 2016 Arbitral Award is final and legally binding. We firmly oppose any action that increase tensions.”
Australian Ambassador to the Philippines Hae Kyong Yu PSM called the CCG’s action “unsafe” and “intimidatory” as she called for “peace, stability and respect” in South China Sea.
“Australia shares concerns about unsafe and intimidatory actions directed against the Philippines,” she said in a tweet.
“We continue to call for peace, stability and respect for international law in the South China Sea, a vital international waterway.”
Meanwhile, German Ambassador to the Philippines Anke Reiffenstuel also voiced Germany's concern over China's latest action.
In a tweet, Reiffenstuel emphasized that all nations must follow the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, adding that the arbitral ruling on the South China Sea was final.
"We call to refrain from any conduct that increase tensions. All states must abide by #UNCLOS. The 2016 Arbitral Award is final & legally binding," she said.
Under UNCLOS or the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea where the Philippines and China are both signatories, the 200 nautical miles off the territorial sea of a country is its exclusive economic zone (EEZ).
In July 2016, the UN Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague, based on a case filed by the Philippines, junked China's nine-dash line claim covering the entire South China Sea.
The arbitration court also ruled that Panganiban (Mischief) Reef, Ayungin (Second Thomas) Shoal and Recto (Reed) Bank are all within the Philippines' EEZ as provided by the UNCLOS and outlawed China’s action of preventing Filipino fishermen to access Scarborough (Panatag) Shoal.
Beijing has refused to acknowledge the arbitral court's ruling.
The United States earlier threw its support behind the Philippines in light of the laser-pointing incident.
On February 6, a CCG vessel pointed a military-grade laser against a PCG vessel performing a resupply mission for Filipino troops stationed in Ayungin Shoal. The PCG said the laser caused temporary blindness to the crew.
China's Foreign Ministry on Monday argued that the Philippine ship intruded into the waters off Ren'ai Reef, which is what it calls Ayungin Shoal, without permission.
On Tuesday, the Philippine Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) filed a diplomatic protest against China over the laser-pointing incident.
President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. has summoned Chinese Ambassador Huang Xilian to express his serious concern over the increasing frequency and intensity of China’s actions against Filipino ships in the West Philippine Sea. —Joviland Rita and Anna Felicia Bajo/KBK, GMA Integrated News