December 15, 2023
MANILA – China was again urged to stop its intimidation in the West Philippine Sea and abide by the “legally binding” July 2016 arbitral tribunal award.
Top security officials from the Philippines, the United States, and Japan held a trilateral phone call on Thursday (Philippine time) to reaffirm their nations’ commitment to international laws governing international seas.
The US Embassy in Manila detailed the call in a document shared with the media. It said that during the call, National Security Advisers Eduardo Año, Jake Sullivan, and Akiba Takeo have aired their concerns about China’s provocative behavior.
“They expressed concerns about China’s recent dangerous and unlawful conduct near Second Thomas (Ayungin) Shoal and Scarborough Reef, and called on China to abide by the legally binding July 2016 Arbitral Tribunal ruling and desist from further provocative behavior,” states a read out from the US embassy.
“Sullivan reaffirmed the United States’ ironclad alliance commitments to both Japan and the Philippines,” it also says.
Año, Sullivan, and Takeo have likewise signified their countries’ commitment to enhancing defense and security capabilities, particularly in cyber security, during the call.
They also agreed to maintain a “free and open” maritime order, aiming to enhance cooperation on humanitarian assistance and disaster relief as well.
Another “close trilateral coordination” over the coming months is being eyed by the top security officials in a bid to advance the shared interests of the Philippines, the United States, and Japan for a free and open Indo-Pacific.
Last weekend, China fired water cannons and did reckless maneuvers against Philippine vessels in the West Philippine Sea and within the Philippines’ exclusive economic zone..
President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. earlier said China’s actions have steeled the Philippines’ determination to defend and protect its sovereignty, sovereign rights, and jurisdiction in the West Philippine Sea.