August 22, 2023
MANILA – The defense chiefs and senior military leaders of 24 countries in the Indo-Pacifice Region were surprised when they saw a video of the China Coast Guard firing a water cannon at a Philippine Coast Guard ship at the Ayuing Shoal.
Gen. Romeo Brawner, chief of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), relayed this observation to reporters in an ambush interview in Camp Aguinaldo on Monday.
Branwer just attended the annual conference — the 2023 Indo-Pacific Chiefs of Defense Conference, which included representatives for the United States — from Aug. 13 to 17 in Nadi town in Fiji, where he presented a video of the Ayungin Shoal incident that took place last Aug. 5.
“I showed them the video of the water cannoning of our supply ships. They were shocked,” Brawner said in Filipino. “In our presentation, we showed how the Philippines was following an international rules-based order.”
Brawner said he also presented the 2016 ruling of the Permanent Court of Arbitration on the South China Sea, which the Aquino administration filed in 2013.
In that ruling, China invalidated China’s so-called nine-dash claim that it owns almost all of the areas in the South China Sea, including the West Philippine Sea.
According to Brawner, China sent a representative to the recent Fiji conference for the first time and defended its claim to the South China Sea (SCS).
“China’s answer was that they follow international laws, that the SCS belongs to them because of their historical rights, and that the arbitration ruling of 2016 is invalid and unacceptable to them,” Brawner said.
“We also responded that if they have a historical claim over the SCS, we have a historical claim over the WPS.”