The US Department of State issued an alarming reprimand of China’s recent actions recently. According to the statement, Chinese ships have engaged in unacceptable activities in the South China Sea that interfere with the Philippines’ lawful exercises of high seas freedom of navigation and put the safety of their personnel and vessels at risk.

The Chinese ships reportedly used water cannons and unsafe manoeuvres to disrupt navigation in the waters covered by The Philippines’ EEZ (Exclusive Economic Zone). The EEZ is a body of water extending from the country’s coast line to a maximum of 200 nautical miles where the country has exclusive rights to exploit and manage the natural resources contained therein.

The Philippines’ request to China to respect its EEZ was ignored, prompting the issuance of the condemnation. To make matters worse, in many instances, the Chinese vessels outnumber the Philippine vessels and are often equipped with more sophisticated technology. Many Filipino vessels, mostly old fishing boats, lack the capacity to effectively counter this type of opposition.

In addition, the US Department of State also strongly condemned China’s use of water cannons and other tactics to pressure and disrupt the Philippines’ legitimate law enforcement activities, such as arresting poachers or monitoring illegal activities in their EEZ.

The US has expressed its commitment to defend the rights and interests of partner nations in the South China Sea. In this context, the US supports the Philippines’ lawful exercise of its maritime rights and interests, including its right to exercise free navigation as provided in international law and UNCLOS (the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea).

In addition, the US Department of State deplored the increasingly aggressive actions of Chinese ships in waters also claimed by Vietnam, Malaysia and Brunei, such as cases of rapid manoeuvring, circling at close range, and interference with fishing nets.

The statement previously released underscored the US’s call to resolve territorial and maritime disputes in the region peacefully and in accordance with international law and reaffirmed US commitment to its partners and the international legal order.

The US Department of State calls on China to adhere to its obligations and commitments under international law, to act responsibly in its regional activities and military actions, and to refrain from intimidating its partner nations with vessels or other force when negotiating for resources and transportation corridors. Furthermore, the US expects China to allow all vessels and aircraft to exercise their lawful rights and interests under international law.

In conclusion, it is evident that the US has taken an active role in stopping unlawful behavior by China in the South China Sea. It is important to retake and peaceably resolve these disputes to ensure not only the safety of Philippines vessels but of those of all the countries that share these waters. As such, the US will continue to stay vigilant and use its international reach to maintain the safety of its partners and the international community.