U.S., Canada lambast PRC

The United States on Sunday denounced China’s actions in the West Philippine Sea that led to the collision of its ships with Philippine boats en route to a resupply mission to the Ayungin Shoal.

In a tweet, US Ambassador to the Philippines MaryKay Carlson described China Coast Guard’s actions as a “disruption” of a “legal” resupply mission of the Philippines to the BRP Sierra Madre, its permanent military post in the West Philippine Sea.

She tweeted on X that the US “condemns” China’s “latest disruption of a legal Philippine resupply mission to Ayungin Shoal, putting the lives of Filipino service members at risk.

One of two boats contracted by the Philippines to bring supplies to the BRP Sierra Madre was bumped by a China Coast Guard Ship before a Chinese militia vessel did the same to a Philippine Coast Guard escort ship.

Carlson said Washington “stands” with Manila in “protecting Philippine sovereignty and in support of a #FreeAndOpenIndoPacific.”

Over the past months, the US had reiterated its “ironclad” alliance commitment to the Philippines amid the escalating tension in the WPS, a portion of the South China Sea claimed by the Philippines and China.

In August, US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin III stressed that the Mutual Defense Treaty between Washington and Manila extends to the latter’s public vessels.


Unlawful conduct

Canada also condemned what it described as “unlawful and dangerous conduct” of the People’s Republic of China in the WPS, which “provoked two collisions with Philippine vessels engaged in routine operations inside the Philippine Exclusive Economic Zone, in the vicinity of Ayungin Shoal.”

“The PRC’s actions are unjustified. China has no lawful claim to the West Philippine Sea. Its actions are incompatible with the obligations of a signatory to the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea,” the Canadian Embassy in Manila said.

“Continuing acts of intimidation and coercion undermine safety, stability, and security across the region and increase the risk of miscalculation,” it added.

Canada said it welcomed the news that no injuries resulted from the collisions and commended the “professionalism and restraint exercised” by the Philippine Coast Guard.

“Canada affirms its support for a rules-based order in the South China Sea consistent with international law, including UNCLOS and the 2016 Arbitral decision, which is final and binding on the parties,” it said.

Ayungin Shoal, also known as Second Thomas Shoal, is 105 nautical miles west of Palawan and is part of the Philippines’ exclusive economic zone.

On 12 July 2016, the Philippines won its arbitral case against China in the Permanent Court of Arbitration — a landmark decision that China continues to reject.

Germany also expressed concern over the incident in the WPS.


Senators enraged

“Germany is very concerned about recent confrontations in the SCS involving Chinese coast guard ships and maritime militia vessels in the Exclusive economic zone of the Philippines,” German Ambassador to the Philippines Ambassador Andreas Pfaffernoschke said in a separate tweet.

Pfaffernoschke called on “all parties to act in accordance with UNCLOS-rules and to respect the 2016 arbitral award.

Senators also condemned China’s actions.

In separate statements, Senate President Juan Miguel “Migz” Zubiri, Senators Risa Hontiveros and Francis Tolentino expressed anger over the collisions that put the safety of the Filipino crew at risk.

“I am one with peace-loving Filipinos in strongly condemning this latest abhorrent actions of the China Coast Guard and Chinese maritime militia that put in danger the lives of our brave countrymen who were on a routine resupply mission to our troops in Ayungin Shoal,” Zubiri said.

Zubiri called on CCG to “respect human lives and abide by the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea and other international laws governing safe maritime travel.”

“This latest collision is squarely the China Coast Guard’s fault,” Hontiveros said. “The 2016 Arbitral Award has resolutely invalidated China’s claims in the West Philippine Sea, making this incident a clear violation of international law.”

For his part, Tolentino said the recent confrontation between the Philippines and China clearly shows China’s continuous disregard for international law.

He noted that the incident should be investigated by the International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea and the Code for Investigation ng Marine Casualties and Incidents of the International Maritime Organization.

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