May 29, 2023
MANILA — The world’s seven most powerful democracies back the Philippines’ claims in the South China Sea as they opposed Beijing’s expansive maritime claims and strongly opposed its militarization in the region.
The Group of Seven (G7) — comprising Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom, and the United States — plus the European Union adopted this position during the G7 and Quadrilateral Security Dialogue (Quad) summits in Japan earlier this month.
“The G7 leaders also stressed that there is no legal basis for China’s expansive claims in the South China Sea and strongly opposed its militarization in the region,” Japan Ambassador Kazuhiko Koshikawa wrote Presidential Communications Secretary Cheloy Velicaria-Garafil in a May 20 letter.
“Significantly, the leaders reiterated the legally binding Arbitral Tribunal award rendered on 12 July 2016 as a significant milestone as a basis for peaceful resolvement of disputes between the parties,” the envoy wrote.
The Philippines was not mentioned during the summit, but Manila, which initiated the complaint in 2013, was the beneficiary of the July 2016 ruling of the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague.
“Furthermore,” Koshikawa’s letter continued, “they affirmed the importance of peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait, and agreed to foster resilience to economic coercion.”
During the Quad meeting among the United States, Australia, India, and Japan, Koshikawa said Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida “expressed serious concerns about attempts to unilaterally change the status quo by force or coercion in the Indo-Pacific, including the East and South China Seas.”
The Japanese ambassador also told Garafil that Quad leaders have reaffirmed their vision of a peaceful, prosperous, and stable region, “where nations respect sovereignty and are free from any form of intimidation and coercion.”
‘Respect international law’
Aside from the G7 and Quad leaders, the European Union (EU) also renewed its support for the Philippines’ claims in the South China Sea.
Speaking during the Joint EU-Asean Business Council and European Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines Gala Dinner in Makati on Thursday, EU Ambassador Luc Véron recognized how the Philippines and EU “champion the concept of rule of law, and a rules-based international order.”
“We strongly recognize the need to respect international law in the West Philippine Sea,” Veron said.
The statement of support from the world’s most powerful countries came as Beijing deployed three buoys in the West Philippine Sea days after Manila placed navigational buoys at Philippine-claimed features in the disputed waters.
China has been occupying parts of the West Philippine Sea and has been harassing Philippine Navy ships and Filipino fisherfolk in the country’s waters.