WASHINGTON said it stands with Manila amid the “dangerous actions” by the Chinese Coast Guard (CCG) in obstructing a Philippine resupply mission to Ayungin or Second Thomas Shoal in the South China Sea.
The Armed Forces of the Philippines described the CCG’s action as “excessive and offensive.” It said that the CCG blocked and water cannoned a chartered supply boat on Aug. 5, while en route to Ayungin Shoal for a routine troop rotation and resupply mission.
Through the US Embassy in Manila, the US Department of State (USDS) on Sunday called on China to abide by the 2016 arbitral ruling as well as “to respect the freedom of navigation – a right to which all states are entitled.”
The US also reaffirmed that an armed attack on Philippine public vessels, aircraft, and armed forces, including those of its Coast Guard in the South China Sea, “would invoke US mutual defense commitments under Article 4 of the 1951 US Philippines Mutual Defense Treaty.”
“Firing water cannons and employing unsafe blocking maneuvers, PRC (People’s Republic of China) ships interfered with the Philippines’ lawful exercise of high seas freedom of navigation and jeopardized the safety of the Philippine vessels and crew,” the USDS said in a statement.
Such actions by China “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,” it added.
By impeding the delivery of provisions to Filipino service members stationed at Second Thomas Shoal, China has also “undertaken unwarranted interference in lawful Philippine maritime operations,” the USDS said.