The US State Department has urged China to stop “harassment” of Philippine vessels in the South China Sea. The ministry also assured its support for the Philippines at a time of rising geopolitical tensions, especially strained relations with Beijing, Reuters reported.
“We call on Beijing to refrain from provocative and dangerous behavior,” the U.S. Department of Foreign Affairs said. The statement also emphasized that United States “They stand with our Philippine allies to uphold a rules-based international maritime order,” Reuters reported.
Mutual accusations of China and the Philippines
The Philippine Coast Guard announced Friday that a confrontation had taken place in the disputed South China Sea between its ships and Chinese vessels that were engaged in “dangerous manoeuvres”. The PRC foreign ministry said the same day that Philippine vessels entered Chinese waters and made deliberate, provocative moves.
The disputed waters of the South China Sea
China claim almost the entire South China Sea as their own territory, which contradicts the claims of several other states in the region, including Philippineswhich have repeatedly called on the PRC to stop “aggressive activities” in these waters. In 2016, an international tribunal agreed with Manila, but Beijing did not recognize this ruling.
The U.S. and Philippine authorities recently reached an agreement under which the U.S. military will have access to four additional military bases in the Philippines. Three of them lie on the island of Luzon nearby Taiwanand one in Palawan province close to disputed areas of the South China Sea. The media assessed that this would allow Washington to “close the arc” of allies surrounding China.
Main photo source: Aaron Favila/AP/East News