US: China’s water cannon attack in WPS ‘threatening regional peace and stability’
MANILA, Philippines — The United States on Sunday said it stands with the Philippines after the China Coast Guard (CCG) fired a water cannon at a Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) and military supply ship bound for Ayungin Shoal, calling the attack a threat to regional peace and stability.
In a statement, the US Department of State said that the People’s Republic of China (PRC) firing of water cannon and employment of unsafe blocking maneuvers interferes with the country’s “lawful exercise of high seas freedom of navigation” and jeopardizes PCG vessels and crews.
“Such actions by the PRC are inconsistent with international law and are the latest in repeated threats to the status quo in the South China Sea, directly threatening regional peace and stability,” the US said.
“By impeding necessary provisions from reaching the Filipino service members stationed at Second Thomas Shoal, the PRC has also undertaken unwarranted interference in lawful Philippine maritime operations,” it added.
The US likewise emphasized that PRC has no lawful claim to the area around Second Thomas (Ayungin) Shoal, which is located well within the Philippines’ exclusive economic zone, according to the 2016 arbitration ruling.
“The United States reiterates, pursuant to the 1982 Law of the Sea Convention, the arbitral decision is final and legally binding on the PRC and the Philippines. The United States calls upon the PRC to abide by the arbitral ruling as well as to respect the freedom of navigation – a right to which all states are entitled,” the US said.
“The United States reaffirms an armed attack on Philippine public vessels, aircraft, and armed forces—including those of its Coast Guard in the South China Sea—would invoke U.S. mutual defense commitments under Article IV of the 1951 U.S. Philippines Mutual Defense Treaty,” it added.
In separate Twitter posts, ambassadors of the European Union and Japan in the Philippines also backed the country’s against China’s continued aggression.
“Very concerned about dangerous action in the South China sea. [European Union] stands with Philippines in upholding the rules-based international order,” ambassador of the EU in the Philippines Luc Veron wrote.
“Totally unacceptable any harassment and actions which infringe on lawful activities of the sea and endanger the navigational safety. We strongly support PH’s position; upholding maritime order based on UNCLOS and 2016 Arbitral Award,” Ambassador of Japan in the Philippines Kazuhiko Koshikawa said.