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US demands China stop harassing Philippine vessels

April 29, 2023

The United States called on China to stop intimidating Philippine ships in the South China Sea, pledging to stand with its ally. Beijing claims sovereignty over almost the entire South China Sea.

A Chinese Coast Guard ship with bow number 5201 blocks Philippine Coast Guard ship BRP Malapascua as it moves to enter the mouth of the Second Thomas Shoal, locally known as Ayungin Shoal in the South China Sea
A Chinese coast guard ship blocked a Philippine patrol vessel steaming into a disputed shoal in the South China Sea, causing a near-collisionImage: Aaron Favila/AP/picture alliance

The United States on Saturday called on China to stop its "provocative and unsafe conduct" in the South China Sea.

It followed a tense encounter between a Chinese coast guard ship and a Philippine patrol vessel last weekend.

In a statement, the State Department criticized China's "harassment and intimidation" of Philippine vessels in the contested waterway.

It added any attack on Philippine armed forces would trigger a US response.

The State Department said the US "stands with our Philippine allies in upholding the rules-based international maritime order."

"We call upon Beijing to desist from its provocative and unsafe conduct," State Department spokesman Mathew Miller said.

The Philippines on Friday accused China's coast guard of "dangerous maneuvers" during the incident in the contested waterway.

What happened last week in the South China Sea?

China said the near-collision was caused by the Philippine patrol vessel's "premeditated and provocative action." 

Manila said in response that "routine patrols in our own waters can be neither premeditated nor provocative."

The day before, Marcos hosted Chinese Foreign Minister Qin Gang for talks in Manila.

Beijing claims sovereignty over almost the entire South China Sea, ignoring an international ruling that the assertion has no legal basis.

The area claimed by China stretches more than 1,500 kilometers off its mainland. Besides the Philippines, it also cuts through the exclusive economic zones of Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei and Indonesia.

lo, sdi/wd (AFP, Reuters)