Washington, Dec 10 (EFE).- The United States called Sunday on China to stop its “dangerous and destabilizing” behavior in the South China Sea, after an altercation between Chinese and Philippine ships in disputed waters, which Washington called “reckless maneuvers.”
In a State Department statement signed by spokesman Matthew Miller, the US showed its support for the Philippines “in the face of these dangerous and illegal actions.”
Tension between the countries increased Sunday after both exchanged accusations over an altercation between their ships in disputed waters, the second similar incident this weekend.
The National Task Force for the West Philippine Sea, a body linked to the Philippine government, accused the Chinese coast guard of firing a water cannon and ramming its replenishment ships in the vicinity of the Ayungin sandbar, which caused ” serious damage to the engine” of one of the boats.
China attributed the incident to the fact that the Philippine ship “ignored the repeated and severe warnings of the Chinese Coast Guard” and “violated” conventions to prevent collisions at sea, according to Monday media reports.
This is the second altercation between the Philippines and China in the waters of the South China Sea, which Beijing claims almost in its entirety and where it disputes, in addition to the Philippine archipelago, territories with Malaysia, Vietnam, Taiwan and Brunei.
In the State Department statement, Miller said that ships from China “employed water cannons and reckless maneuvers” causing “damage to ships” from the Philippines carrying out official missions” on Saturday and Sunday off Scarborough Reef and near Second Thomas Shoal respectively.
“(Chinese) ships at Scarborough Reef also used acoustic devices, incapacitating Filipino crew members and driving away Filipino fishing boats,” the text added.
“These actions reflect not only a reckless disregard for the security and livelihoods of Filipinos, but also for international law” to “undermine regional stability,” the statement said.
As reflected in the “legally binding decision” of an international court issued in July 2016, reminds the US, China has no “legal maritime claims” to the waters around Second Thomas Shoal, and the Filipinos have fishing rights traditional in its surroundings.
Tensions between China and the Philippines have increased in recent months as Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. strengthens his defense alliance with the Us and reverses the rapprochement with Beijing promoted by his predecessor Rodrigo Duterte. EFE