maritime security

Countries slam China’s ‘dangerous’ acts during Philippines’ Ayungin mission

Bea Cupin

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Countries slam China’s ‘dangerous’ acts during Philippines’ Ayungin mission

RUSTY. The BRP Sierra Madre, used as a military outpost, is marooned in Ayungin Shoal in the West Philippine Sea, March 2014.

Erik de Castro/Reuters

(2nd UPDATE) Several countries – including treaty-ally the United States – criticize Beijing over what Manila says were 'dangerous maneuvers, including ramming and towing'

MANILA, Philippines – The Philippines’ treaty-ally, the United States, condemned on Monday, June 17, China’s “aggressive, dangerous maneuvers” during a Philippine resupply mission to the BRP Sierra Madre in Ayungin Shoal.

In a statement, US Ambassador to Manila MaryKay Carlson said Chinese actions “caused bodily injury, damaged Philippine vessels, and hindered lawful maritime operations to supply food, water, and essential supplies” for Filipino soldiers stated at the rusting warship, which has served as a military outpost in those waters since 1999.

In the early hours of Monday, the China Coast Guard claimed that a collision occurred between Philippine and Chinese vessels in waters close to Ayungin or Second Thomas Shoal.

Late Monday, more than 12 hours later, the Philippines, through its National Security Council, confirmed that a rotation and resupply mission to the BRP Sierra Madre was “disrupted by the illegal and aggressive actions of Chinese maritime forces.”

The Philippines said China’s Navy, coast guard, and maritime militia “engaged in dangerous maneuvers, including ramming and towing.”

“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,” added the Philippines.

Luc Véron, the European’s ambassador to Manila, said the bloc “expressed deep concern” over the incident.

“The EU opposes coercion and intimidation in the South China Sea, or anywhere. We support international law and peaceful dispute resolution,” he said.

The shoal is located some 100 nautical miles away from mainland Palawan and is well within the Philippines’ exclusive economic zone. But China claims almost all of the South China Sea as its own and has refused to acknowledge the 2016 Arbitral Award.

In a June 18 post on X, Canadian ambassador to Manila David Hartman said Ottawa “condemns” China’s actions. “These dangerous and destabilizing actions caused injuries and put at risk stability, security and prosperity in the Indo-Pacific region,” he said. 

“China’s actions are inconsistent with its obligations under international law, including the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea. We call on China to implement the 2016 arbitral ruling, which is final and binding on the parties,” he added. 

Dutch Ambassador to Manila Marielle Geraedts said “irresponsible maneuvers that endanger the safety of ships and crews call into question the freedom of sea routes guaranteed under international law.”

“[The Netherlands] considers it of utmost importance that the 2016 Arbitral Award is fully respected and implemented,” she said.

German Ambassador Andreas Pfaffernoschke said Berlin was “seriously concerned about dangerous actions” of Chinese ships during the resupply mission. “We reiterate our call for peaceful resolution of disputes and full respect of UNCLOS and International Law, including the 2016 arbitral award,” he said. 

The New Zealand embassy in Manila described China’s actions as “escalatory and dangerous.” “These threaten lives and safety. New Zealand calls for peaceful resolution of disputes in full accordance with UNCLOS,” the embassy said on X. 

The United Kingdom’s envoy Laure Beaufils condemned China’s “dangerous actions,” saying they “interfered with navigational freedoms and escalated tensions.”

Australian Ambassador to Manila HK Yu, in a post on X, said Canberra “shares the Philippines’ deep concern at dangerous and illegal actions” by China during the mission, adding the actions “[endangered] lives and regional stability.”

The Korean embassy in Manila, in a separate post, said it “expresses grave concern about the recent dangerous actions in the South China Sea that caused serious damages to the Philippine vessels and especially bodily injuries to a crew member.”

“We reiterate the importance of upholding peace, stability, safety and rules-based maritime order in the South China Sea, a critical sea lane of communications for all countries that are using it,” the embassy said in a post on X.

Respect law

Finland’s Ambassador to Manila Juha Pyykkö, in a post on X, said: “For Finland, I express my concern about these dangerous maneuvers and reiterate my call for respect for international law.”

French Ambassador Marie Fontanel expressed “serious concern” over the incident. “[France] reiterates call for respect of the UNCLOS and freedom of navigation. We oppose any threat or use of force contrary to international law and recall the importance of resolving disputes through dialogue,” she said.

Fontanel earlier announced that France was eyed deeper defense cooperation with the Philippines, including the possible signing of a Status of Visiting Forces Agreement.

Japanese Ambassador Endo Kazuya, also on X, reiterated his country’s “grave concern over the repeated dangerous and aggressive actions” by China.

“We stand with the [Philippines] and cooperate with like-minded countries in maintaining & enhancing the free & open international order based on the rule of law,” he added.

The Philippines and Japan are about to conclude negotiations for a Reciprocal Access Agreement, or a visiting forces agreement-like deal.

Philippine officials have yet to confirm if Filipinos were injured as a result of the June 17 incident. President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. had earlier said that the death of a Filipino, including in the West Philippine Sea, would be his “red line” in invoking the Mutual Defense Treaty with the United States. –

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Bea Cupin

Bea is a senior multimedia reporter who covers national politics. She's been a journalist since 2011 and has written about Congress, the national police, and the Liberal Party for Rappler.