West Philippine Sea

US, other countries hit China’s latest intimidation vs Filipino ships

Jairo Bolledo

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US, other countries hit China’s latest intimidation vs Filipino ships

WATER CANNON. China uses water cannon again on Filipino ships in the West Philippine Sea, the Philippine Coast Guard Reported on Saturday, December 9, 2023.

Philippine Coast Guard

(1st UPDATE) Ambassadors to the Philippines of Japan, European Union, Canada, Britain, Australia, Germany, and Netherlands also condemn the water cannon attack against Philippine ships

MANILA, Philippine — Several countries, including Philippine ally, the United States, condemned China’s latest intimidation against Filipino vessels in the West Philippine Sea on Saturday, December 9.

“We condemn PRC’s aggressive, illegal actions against BFAR vessels lawfully operating in the EEZ. This PRC behavior violates international law and endangers lives and livelihoods. We stand with our Philippine #FriendsPartnersAllies in support of a #FreeAndOpenIndoPacific,” US Ambassador to the Philippines MaryKay Carlson said in X, formerly Twitter.

In a statement, the National Task Force for the West Philippine Sea (NTFWPS) said Chinese Coast Guard ships used water cannons against the vessels of the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) namely Datu Sanday, Datu Bankaw, and Datu Tamblot near Bajo de Masinloc (Scarborough Shoal). The three BFAR ships are civilian vessels which are in a humanitarian and support mission to provide oil subsidy and grocery packs to over 30 Filipino fishing vessels in the area.

Aside from that, the NTFWPS said Chinese Maritime Militia (CMM) ships also engaged in dangerous maneuvers and deployed “what understood to be” a long-range acoustic device — which can cause pain in the ears. The task force added the Chinese forces deployed Rigid Full Inflatable Boats to disperse and drive away the Filipino vessels awaiting the BFAR ships.

Aside from the US ambassador, other diplomats also condemned China’s latest intimidation.

“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,” Japan Ambassador to the Philippines Kazuhiko Koshikawa said.

Meanwhile, European Union Ambassador to the Philippines Luc Véron noted that the 2016 arbitral ruling — and not water cannons — is used for peacefully resolving disputes.

The 2016 arbitral ruling, which was the Philippines’ case against China, strengthened the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS). The UNCLOS states that the Philippines has sovereign rights over features located within its exclusive economic zone or 12 to 200 nautical miles from the baseline of its territorial waters. 

Canadian Ambassador to the Philippines David Hartman also said that Canada condemned China’s latest intimidation: “Canada condemns the dangerous and escalatory actions of the Peoples Republic of China earlier today at Scarborough Shoal. Canada reaffirms its support for the 2016 Arbitral Tribunal ruling, which is final and binding on the parties.”

In addition, British Ambassador to the Philippines Laure Beaufils said China’s latest action endangers lives and livelihoods, adding that the United Kingdom has its full support for the UNCLOS.

Australian ambassador to the Philippines HK Yu said she is “seriously concerned” over Chinese vessels actions against Filipino ships.

She, along with German ambassador Andreas Pfaffernoschke and Dutch ambassador Marielle Geraedts, also noted the importance of upholding the UNCLOS for maritime peace and stability.

— With reports from Bea Cupin/Rappler.com

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Jairo Bolledo

Jairo Bolledo is a multimedia reporter at Rappler covering justice, police, and crime.