THE United States ambassador to the Philippines and at least 10 of her counterparts in Manila quickly called out China at the weekend for engaging Philippine vessels in “dangerous” sea maneuvers in the West Philippine Sea.
“The US stands with the Philippines and partners in vehemently condemning the PRC’s repeated illegal and dangerous actions against Philippine vessels, including disrupting the Philippine resupply mission to the Sierra Madre today (December 10). PRC aggression undermines regional stability in defiance of a #FreeAndOpenIndoPacific,” US Ambassador MaryKay Carlson posted in her X account.
Carlson was referring to the incident on Sunday when Chinese Coast Guard fired water cannons and rammed the resupply vessels that caused “serious engine damage” to one.
On Saturday, three civilian vessels of the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) were also blasted with water at they passed near the Bajo de Masinloc (Scarborough Shoal), located off Zambales and within the Philippine Exclusive Economic Zone.
Ambassador Carlson also condemned China’s “aggressive, illegal actions” against the BFAR vessels. “This PRC behavior violates international law and endangers lives and livelihoods. We stand with our Philippine friend, partner, ally in support of a free and open Indo-Pacific,” she tweeted.
Other foreign ambassadors or embassies who called out China included:
1. British Ambassador Laure Beaufils
• UK notes unsafe actions by the PRC against Philippine vessels for the second day running. This disrupted a Philippine routine resupply mission and once again undermines regional stability. UK calls for adherence to UNCLOS and the respect of the 2016 arbitral award which is binding on both parties.
• The UK is aware of the unsafe actions by CCG vessels against Philippines BFAR vessels near Scarborough Shoal today. This endangers lives and livelihoods and undermines regional peace and stability. The UK reiterates its full support for UNCLOS.
2. French Ambassador Marie Fontanel
• UNCLOS was signed exactly 41 years ago Dec. 10th 1982. Today more than ever recalls the value of international law to ensure freedom of navigation and is, once again, seriously concerned by the use of water cannons in the Philippine EEZ to prevent a resupply mission to BRP Sierra Madre.
• Seriously concerned once again by the very dangerous actions preventing the course of a resupply mission in the Philippine WPS today. France reiterates the importance of UNCLOS to ensure freedom of navigation and recalls the 2016 Arbitral Award.
3. Australian Ambassador HK Yu
• Australia remains steadfast in support of UNCLOS and international law. China’s further dangerous actions against Philippine vessels today, following yesterday’s incident, again risk lives and livelihoods and are deeply concerning.
• Seriously concerned by reports of dangerous actions by Chinese vessels against Philippine vessels today. This endangers lives and livelihoods. Australia again reiterates the call for peace, stability and respect for UNCLOS in the South China Sea, a vital international waterway for us all.
4. Japanese Ambassador Koshikawa Kazuhiko
• Gravely concerned about repeated dangerous actions by CCG vessels against PH vessels. Japan stands with the Philippines in support of a Free and Open Indo-Pacific. Japan opposes actions that undermine the peace and stability in SCS.
• Seriously concerned about the dangerous actions by CCG vessels against PH vessels, which endanger lives and livelihoods and pose the threat to the peace and stability in SCS. We reiterate the importance of upholding international law, particularly UNCLOS, and 2016 Arbitral Award.
5. European Union Ambassador Luc Veron
• Another deeply troubling incident today, water cannons used again. UNCLOS dispute settlement mechanisms maintain the rule of law. The 2016 UNCLOS Tribunal Award is a valuable framework for peaceful resolution. Water cannons and dangerous sea maneuvers aren’t a legitimate alternative.
• The EU recalls that UNCLOS dispute settlement mechanisms contribute to maintaining and advancing the rule of law. The 2016 UNCLOS Tribunal Award is legally binding and useful for peacefully resolving disputes. Water cannons aren’t!
6. German Ambassador Andreas Pfaffernoschke
• Germany fully supports the statement made by the ambassador of the EU and calls for the respect of the rule of law, including the 2016 UNCLOS award.
7. The Netherlands Ambassador Marielle Geraedts.
• The Netherlands strongly condemns all actions that are not in line with UNCLOS and the 2016 arbitral award. Freedom of navigation is an essential part of the international law of the sea.
8. New Zealand Ambassador Peter Kell
• New Zealand is deeply concerned at multiple incidents of dangerous actions towards the Philippines at Scarborough Shoal and Second Thomas Shoal. This includes obstructing civilian boats and the use of water cannons against Philippine vessels, causing significant damage. These actions pose real risks to safety and lives, and risk undermining regional stability. New Zealand again firmly calls for all parties to resolve disputes peacefully in full accordance with UNCLOS.
9. Ireland Embassy in Manila
• Ireland is concerned with the reports of further actions against Philippine vessels in the South China Sea. We reiterate our support for the international rules-based order & call for all sides to respect their legally binding obligations as set out in UNCLOS and the 2016 Arbitral Award.
10. South Korea Embassy in Manila
• The ROK Embassy in the Philippines is concerned about the recent use of water cannons against Philippine vessels in the South China Sea. We reaffirm our strong support for peace, stability and rules-based order in the South China Sea and for the freedom of navigation and overflight based on the principles of international law, including Unclos.
Image credits: Philippine Coast Guard via AP