MANILA, Philippines – Foreign ministers from the Group of Seven (G7) industrialized countries on Monday expressed concern over the rising tensions in the South China Sea and called on the full implementation of the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the disputed waters.
During a meeting in Hiroshima, Japan, the foreign ministers of Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom, the United States and High Representative of the European Union released a joint statement on maritime security.
"We express our strong opposition to any intimidating, coercive or provocative unilateral actions that could alter the status quo and increase tensions," the statement read.
The G7 ministers further urged concerned states to refrain from conducting massive land reclamation activities, building of outposts and using them for military purposes.
The statement, however, did not specifically mention China who had been building artificial islands in the disputed sea.
The top diplomats stressed the importance of recognizing the principles of international law, particularly the United Nations Convention of the Law of the Sea.
The foreign ministers also called on claimant states to pursue a peaceful settlement of maritime disputes in the region and recognized arbitration as a legal dispute mechanism which is based upon the rule of law.
"The legal order for the seas and oceans facilitates international communication, promotes the peaceful uses of the seas and oceans and the sustainable use of marine resources, and supports economic order and security in the international community," the top diplomats said in the statement.
The Philippines earlier filed an arbitration case against China before the Permanent Court of Arbitration based in The Hague, Netherlands. However, China refused to participate in the proceedings and insisted that they have indisputable sovereignty over the disputed Sea.
Manila was the first country to challenge Beijing's nine-dash line claim over the South China Sea. The international tribunal is expected to issue its ruling on the case by May.