Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte condemned China over the recent maritime incident between a Chinese Coast Guard vessel and two Philippine supply boats at the Ayungin Shoal.
Presidential condemnation: Duterte called the incident “abhorrent” while speaking to Chinese President Xi Jinping and other Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) leaders during a regional summit hosted by Beijing on Monday, Manila Times reported.
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- “We abhor the recent event,” the Philippine president said. “This does not speak well of the relations between our nations.”
- He then referred to the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) at the summit and the Hague’s 2016 ruling, which declined Beijing’s claims to the South China Sea and ruled in favor of the Philippines. “UNCLOS and the 2016 Arbitral Award provide legal clarity, pointing us to a just and fair solution to our disputes,” Duterte said. “We must fully utilize these legal tools to ensure that the South China Sea remains a sea of peace, stability and prosperity.”
The incident and backlash: Two Philippine boats carrying supplies for soldiers stationed in the Ayungin Shoal, also known as the Second Thomas Shoal, were blocked and eventually fired upon by a water cannon from a Chinese Coast Guard vessel on Nov. 16.
- China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs claimed that the two Philippine boats entered Chinese territorial waters without permission and that the country’s Coast Guard only “performed official duties in accordance with law and upheld China’s territorial sovereignty and maritime order.”
- Beijing passed a law in September that requires other nations to report their information to China before entering the South China Sea. “Our stand on that is we do not honor those laws by the Chinese within the West Philippine Sea because we consider that we have the sovereign right within these waters,” Philippine Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said following the announcement, Al Jazeera reported.
- The European Union strongly condemned China’s action in a statement on Sunday, saying, “This episode follows other unilateral actions by vessels of the People’s Republic of China in the South China Sea over the past months,” South China Morning Post reported.
- “The European Union reiterates its strong opposition to any unilateral actions that endanger peace, security and stability in the region and the international rules-based order,” the European Union added.
- Other countries, including France, Australia and Japan, also condemned the attack. The United States also vowed to uphold the 1951 US-Philippines Mutual Defense Treaty (MDT) if there is an armed attack against a Philippine vessel in the disputed sea.
- The resupply mission to the troops in the Ayungin Shoal was successful on Tuesday afternoon, Cabinet Secretary and Malacañang acting spokesman Karlo Nograles said in a statement, ABS-CBN reported.