Group of Seven

G7 leaders express serious concern over situation in East and South China Seas

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G7 leaders express serious concern over situation in East and South China Seas

WATER CANNONS IN AYUNGIN. Two China Coast Guard ships train their water cannons onto the Unaizah May 4 (between the two Chinese ships), a wooden boat used to bring supplies to the BRP Sierra Madre. Vice Admiral Alberto Carlos was on board the Unaizah May during this mission.

Screenshot from PCG video

(1st UPDATE) 'We continue opposing China’s dangerous use of coast guard and maritime militia in the South China Sea and its repeated obstruction of countries’ high seas freedom of navigation,' G7 leaders say

MANILA, Philippines – As the China Coast Guard began implementing its “trespass” rules in the South China Sea on Saturday, June 15, Group of Seven (G7) leaders expressed their opposition to China’s “dangerous” actions against Philippine vessels in the area.

“We remain seriously concerned about the situation in the East and South China Seas and reiterate our strong opposition to any unilateral attempt to change the status quo by force or coercion,” an excerpt of the G7 leaders’ communique said.

The core G7 members are the United States, Italy, Britain, France, Germany, Japan, and Canada.

“We continue opposing China’s dangerous use of coast guard and maritime militia in the South China Sea and its repeated obstruction of countries’ high seas freedom of navigation,” they added.

The leaders, who are meeting in Apulia, Italy, expressed “serious concern about the increasing use of dangerous maneuvers and water cannons against Philippine vessels.”

“In this regard, we reaffirm that there is no legal basis for China’s expansive maritime claims in the South China Sea, and we oppose China’s militarization, and coercive and intimidation activities in the South China Sea,” they said.

The leaders reemphasized the “universal and unified character of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) and reaffirm UNCLOS’ important role in setting out the legal framework that governs all activities in the oceans and the seas.”

“We reiterate that the award rendered by the Arbitral Tribunal on 12 July 2016 is a significant milestone, which is legally binding upon the parties to those proceedings, and a useful basis for peacefully resolving disputes between the parties,” they said.

China, which has maritime sovereignty disputes with the Philippines and other countries, issued in May new rules effective June 15 that would enforce a 2021 coast guard law and allow detention of foreigners suspected of trespassing.

In 2021, amid growing alarm over its coast guard law, China insisted that it does not target any particular country.

Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. earlier said that China’s new policy “is an escalation of the situation” in the West Philippine Sea.

China claims a huge part of the South China Sea as its own. It’s a claim that overlaps with several countries in the region, including the Philippines, leading to routine harassment of Philippine vessels as well as fishermen there.

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On the day of the implementation of China’s “trespass” rule, the Philippines filed before the United Nations (UN) Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf (CLCS) a claim over an extended continental shelf (ECS) in the West Philippine Sea.

PH military chief tells fishermen to ignore China rules

On the eve of the implementation of the China’s new coastguard rules, Armed Forces of the Philippines chief General Romeo Brawner told media that he had urged Filipino fishermen to keep fishing in the country’s exclusive economic zone in the South China Sea.

“That’s our message to our fishermen, for them not to be afraid but to just go ahead with their normal activities in our exclusive economic zone,” Brawner told reporters on Friday, June 14.

“We have the right to exploit the resources in the area so our fishermen have no reason to be afraid,” he added.

The new rules, which allows China’s coastguard to detain suspected trespassers without trial for 60 days, have sparked international concerns, with the Philippines describing them as “worrisome” and a “provocation.”

Taiwan’s coastguard said in a statement “it will strengthen fishing protection tasks, resolutely defends the safety of our fishermen’s operations and ensure the rights and interests of shipping, and defend national sovereignty.”

It also called on China “not to use this reason to justify unilateral acts that undermine regional peace.”

The US, which has a Mutual Defense Treaty with the Philippines and is bound by law to provide Taiwan with the means to defend itself, said Chinese domestic law “has no applicability to other states’ flagged vessels in other states’ exclusive economic zones or in the high seas, according to the 1982 Law of the Sea Convention.

“Enforcement would be highly escalatory and detrimental to regional peace and security,” a spokesperson for the US State Department added. “We’ve urged Beijing – and all claimants – to comport their maritime claims with international law as reflected in the 1982 Law of the Sea Convention.”

China has stepped up military activities near democratically-governed Taiwan, which it views as its own territory. It is also involved in an increasingly bitter stand-off with the Philippines in the disputed South China Sea.

The Chinese foreign ministry has said previously the new rules were meant to protect the maritime order, and that there was no need to worry if there was no illegal behaviour by the individuals and bodies involved.

In May, the defense ministers of the Philippines, US, Japan, and Australia expressed their objection to the “dangerous use” of Chinese militia in West Philippine Sea.

In their summit statement, G7 also warned of action against Chinese financial institutions that helped Russia obtain weapons for its war against Ukraine. – with a report from Reuters/

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