PH condemns China’s aggressive actions, ramming, towing

MANILA. Philippine Coast Guard personnel from BRP Malabrigo transports supplies to the Philippine-claimed West York Island, locally known as Likas island at the South China Sea on Thursday April 20, 2023. (AP)
MANILA. Philippine Coast Guard personnel from BRP Malabrigo transports supplies to the Philippine-claimed West York Island, locally known as Likas island at the South China Sea on Thursday April 20, 2023. (AP)

THE Philippines condemns the “illegal, aggressive, and reckless” actions of China during the recent routine rotation and resupply (RORE) mission in Ayungin Shoal, putting the lives of Filipino troops at risk and causing damage to its vessels.

In a statement, the National Task Force (NTF) for the West Philippine Sea (WPS) said the People’s Liberation Army-Navy (PLAN), China Coast Guard (CCG), and the Chinese Maritime Militia (CMM) vessels disrupted the Rore mission to BRP Sierra Madre in Ayungin Shoal on June 17, 2024, by their illegal and aggressive actions which include “ramming and towing.”

The collision reportedly resulted in injury to one Filipino soldier which required a medical evacuation.

“Despite the illegal, aggressive, and reckless actions by the Chinese maritime forces, our personnel showed restraint and professionalism, refrained from escalating the tension, and carried on with their mission,” it said.

“We strongly condemn the illegal, aggressive, and reckless actions of the PLAN, CCG, and CMM. Their actions put at risk the lives of our personnel and damaged our boats, in blatant violation of international law, particularly the United Nations Charter, the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), and the 2016 Arbitral Award,” it added.

The NTF-WPS reiterated the country’s commitment to pursue peaceful and responsible actions in accordance with international law as it also expected China to do the same.

The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), however, refused to discuss the operational details of the incident as it maintained that the area is within the country’s exclusive economic zone (EEZ).

It said it will not dignify the “deceptive and misleading claims” of the China Coast Guard noting that the main issue remains to be China’s illegal presence in the West Philippine Sea.

Defense Secretary Gilbert Teodoro said the Philippine forces will continue to resist China’s behavior which “contravenes their statements of good faith and decency.”

“We will exert our utmost in order to fulfill our sworn mandate to protect our territorial integrity, sovereignty, and sovereign rights,” he said.

“It should now be clear to the international community that China’s actions are the true obstacles to peace and stability in the South China Sea,” he added.

In a media interview, China Foreign Ministry spokesperson Lin Jian maintained that the supply vessel and two speed boats of the Philippines illegally intruded the Ren’ai Jiao (Ayungin Shoal) without permission from the Chinese government.

He reiterated that the China Coast Guard took necessary control measures to stop the Philippine vessels in accordance with the law as she maintained that the maneuvers at the scene by Chinese authorities were professional, restrained, justified, and lawful.

In a statement, United States (US) Ambassador to the Philippines Marykay Carlson said they condemn China’s aggressive and dangerous maneuvers near Ayungin Shoal.

“The US condemns the PRC’s aggressive, dangerous maneuvers near Ayungin (Second Thomas) Shoal, which caused bodily injury, damaged Philippine vessels, and hindered lawful maritime operations to supply food, water, and essentials supplies to personnel within the Philippines exclusive economic zone,” she said.

The US State Department tagged the incident as “escalatory and irresponsible” in a series of Chinese "provocations" to prevent supplies from reaching Philippines personnel stationed at the BRP Sierra Madre.

Before the said incident, members of Group of Seven (G7) countries which includes Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom, and the United States issued a joint statement expressing serious concern and opposition to China’s actions in the South China Sea (WPS) including its repeated obstruction of countries’ high seas freedom of navigation.

In response, Lin said the G7’s accusations have no factual, legal or moral basis and are filled with arrogance, bias and falsehood.

He said the group acts against the world trend of peaceful development while it claims to safeguard world peace.

“The G7 keeps drawing lines along difference in ideology and values, hyping up the false narrative of ‘democracy vs. autocracy,’ forming exclusive groupings and inciting bloc confrontation, fanning up flames and shirking responsibilities in regional conflicts, sending military vessels and aircraft into the Asia-Pacific to create tensions, and arming Taiwan to threaten peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait,” he said.

“The G7’s ‘Chinese overcapacity’ allegation is unsupported by facts or the laws of economy. It is just an excuse for protectionism and undermines the global effort for green and low-carbon transition and cooperation on climate response. The G7 is the one truly responsible for ‘economic coercion’ as it continues to politicize and weaponize trade, which is a reversal of our globalized world where countries’ interests are already deeply integrated. Such behavior will eventually backfire on the G7 itself,” he added. (TPM/SunStar Philippines)

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