December 14, 2023
MANILA – Australia has condemned China’s “pattern of dangerous actions” in Philippines’ exclusive economic zone (EEZ) in West Philippine Sea (WPS) over the weekend.
In a statement on X (formerly twitter) shared by Australian Ambassador to the Philippines Hae Kyong Yu on Wednesday, Australian government said the actions of Chinese Coast Guard (CCG) create “risks of miscalculations.”
“The Australian Government shares the grave concerns of the Philippines Government about a pattern of dangerous actions conducted by Chinese vessels against Philippines vessels and crew in the South China Sea, including incidents near Scarborough Shoal and at Second Thomas Shoal on 9-10 December,” the statement read.
On December 9 and 10, China attempted to thwart two separate humanitarian and support missions near Scarborough Shoal and Ayungin Shoal, also known as the Second Thomas Shoal, by ramming and firing water cannons at Filipino vessels.
“Actions by the Chinese Coast Guard and other Chinese vessels, such as water cannoning and ramming, endanger the peace and security of the region, threaten lives and livelihoods, and create risks of miscalculation,” the statement continued.
Australia likewise emphasized the importance of United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) as an international law which guarantees the nations’ rights and freedoms within their EEZs.
“Australia reiterates that the 2016 South China Sea Arbitral Award is final and legally binding on the parties,” it added.
Australia is referring to the 2016 The Hague decision which voided China’s claims in WPS.
The verdict recognized Philippines’ sovereign right to fish and explore resources within its EEZ – a ruling that China refused to acknowledge.
On Sunday, the European Union’s envoy to the Philippines also underscored the importance of the 2016 Tribunal Award as a valuable framework for peaceful resolution amid the tension in WPS.
Meanwhile, United Kingdom (UK) on Monday likewise criticized China’s “unsafe and escalatory tactics” over the weekend.
UK said it opposes “any action which raises tensions, including harassment, unsafe conduct and intimidation tactics.”
Among those who also renounced the actions of CCG following the incidents on December 9 and 10 were diplomats from United States, France, New Zealand, and Japan.