As Beijing tries to turn the tables against the Philippines, the Unites States declared that they “stand” with Manila over the accusation that a Chinese Coast Guard used a military grade laser during a resupply mission to troops in the South China Sea.
“The United States stands with our Philippine allies in the face of the People’s Republic of China (PRC) Coast Guard’s reported use of laser devices against the crew of a Philippine Coast Guard ship on February 6 in the South China Sea,” according to State Department spokesperson Ned Price.
“The PRC’s conduct was provocative and unsafe, resulting in the temporary blindness of the crewmembers of the BRP Malapascua and interfering with the Philippines’ lawful operations in and around Second Thomas Shoal. More broadly, the PRC’s dangerous operational behavior directly threatens regional peace and stability, infringes upon freedom of navigation in the South China Sea as guaranteed under international law, and undermines the rules-based international order,” Price added in his statement.
“As reflected in an international tribunal’s legally binding decision issued in July 2016, the People’s Republic of China has no lawful maritime claims to Second Thomas Shoal. The United States reiterates, pursuant to the 1982 Law of the Sea Convention, the 2016 arbitral decision is final and legally binding on the PRC and the Philippines, and we call upon the PRC to abide by the ruling,” he explained.
“The United States stands with our Philippine allies in upholding the rules-based international maritime order and reaffirms an armed attack on Philippine armed forces, public vessels, or aircraft, including those of the Coast Guard in the South China Sea, would invoke U.S. mutual defense commitments under Article IV of the 1951 U.S. Philippines Mutual Defense Treaty,” he added.
Earlier, the PCG said that the incident occurred last February 6 near Ayungin Shoal.
They added that the CCG vessel with bow number 5205 of pointing a “military-grade” laser light at PCG vessel BRP Malapascua that was simply conducting a military rotation and resupply mission in Ayungin Shoal in the West Philippine Sea.
During a July 2016 ruling, the UN Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague, based on a case filed by the Philippines, junked China’s nine-dash line claim covering the entire South China Sea.
The arbitration court also ruled that Panganiban (Mischief) Reef, Ayungin (Second Thomas) Shoal and Recto (Reed) Bank are all within the Philippines’ EEZ as provided by the UNCLOS and outlawed China’s action of preventing Filipino fishermen to access Scarborough (Panatag) Shoal.
China has denied the ruling and refuses to acknowledge citing historic claims.
CurrentPH News Service