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US warns: China's ‘unacceptable’ coast guard law could escalate maritime disputes

Bella Perez-Rubio - Philstar.com
US warns: China's âunacceptableâ coast guard law could escalate maritime disputes
In this April 5, 2019 photo, amphibious assault ship USS Wasp (LHD 1) maneuvers alongside the Philippine Navy offshore patrol vessel BRP Ramon Alcaraz (PS 16) in the West Philippine Sea in support of Exercise Balikatan 2019.
US Navy / Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Daniel Barker

MANILA, Philippines — The US on Saturday scored China for passing a new law that allows its coast guard to fire on foreign vessels, accusing it of putting "unacceptable pressure" on countries with claims in the South China Sea.

"[T]he United States joins the Philippines, Vietnam, Indonesia, Japan and other countries in expressing concern with China’s recently enacted Coast Guard law, which may escalate ongoing territorial and maritime disputes," US Department of State spokesperson Ned Price said in an audio press briefing with reporters.

"We are specifically concerned by language in the law that expressly ties the potential use of force, including armed force by the China Coast Guard, to the enforcement of China’s claims in ongoing territorial and maritime disputes in the East and South China Seas."

Price added that language in the law "strongly implies" that China might use it "to intimidate the [its] maritime neighbors," in order to "assert its unlawful maritime claims in the South China Sea."

Beijing has long refused to acknowledge the arbitral ruling that junked its claims over the resource-rich West Philippine Sea, the part of the South China Sea within the Philippines' exclusive economic zone.

"Our position on the [China's] maritime claims remains aligned with the 2016 Arbitral Tribunal’s finding that China has no lawful claim in areas it found to be in the Philippines exclusive economic zone or continental shelf," he said.

"We stand firm in our respective alliance commitments to Japan and the Philippines."

In response to China's controversial new law, the Philippines has filed a diplomatic protest and has said that it will increase its naval visibility in the contested waters to protect Filipino fisherfolk.

"We remind [China] and all...whose forces operate in the South China Sea that responsible maritime forces act with professionalism and restraint in the exercise of their authorities," Price said.

Despite the concerns raised by its neighbors and the US, China has continued to assert its unfounded claims in the South China Sea, most recently installing structures on the Philippine-claimed Mischief or Panganiban Reef as seen in satellite images released by US-based firm Simularity.

READ: Photos show more Chinese construction, new radars on Mischief Reef

The regional superpower insists that its new law is not a threat of war and does not "specifically target any certain country."

CHINA SOUTH CHINA SEA US WEST PHILIPPINE SEA
As It Happens
LATEST UPDATE: November 26, 2021 - 9:12am

A thread of major developments in the bilateral relations between the Philippines and the United States from January to December 2021. (Presidential photo/Joey Dalumpines and AFP/Angela Weiss)

November 26, 2021 - 9:12am

The US government establishes a five-year grant worth P800 million to promote natural resource conservation, and ecosystem and community resilience, by supporting civil society organizations in advocating for, and participating in, good natural resource governance. 

The grant will be launched through the Investing in Sustainability and Partnerships for Inclusive Growth and Regenerative Ecosystems (INSPIRE) project. 

“Through the INSPIRE project, USAID is pleased to support the Philippines’ efforts to conserve the country’s rich biodiversity and mitigate the impacts of climate change while making sure that the environment continues to benefit many Filipinos whose incomes depend upon these natural resources," USAID Acting Mission Director Sean Callahan says.

November 24, 2021 - 12:59pm

The United States Embassy in the Philippines launches a livelihood program for those who are recovering from substance abuse order.

In partnership with the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, the US Embassy's International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs is providing PhP5 million ($100,000) to support the "Ako ang Saklay" program.

“Livelihood programs, such as those facilitated by Ako ang Saklay, can result in quality-of-life changes for persons who use drugs, their families, and their communities,” INL representative Mark Everson says.

October 29, 2021 - 2:55pm

The US Peace Corps, in partnership with the DepEd, concludes a series of virtual trainings for educators on using newly developed distance training materials.

The training ran from October 12 to 29, which involved 1,000 teachers, principals and supervisors from Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao.

“Studies show that high-quality instructional materials significantly increase academic outcomes by allowing students to engage more deeply and meaningfully with their learning. This has never been more important than now, with students still schooling online due to the ongoing pandemic,” DepEd Bureau of Learning Delivery Director Leila Areola says.

October 29, 2021 - 11:55am

USAID launches a five-year project worth P750 million ($15 million) to build climate resilience in the Philippines.

The Climate Resilient Cities project will help cities in the country to mitigate, and endure the impacts of climate change by increasing their access to climate financing and tools to build resilience, the US Embassy says.

"Addressing the climate crisis, and particularly the vulnerability of cities, is crucial to helping build a more prosperous, resilient Philippines for current and future generations," USAID Philippines Acting Mission Director Sean Callahan says.

October 20, 2021 - 2:46pm

US military service members on Tuesday delivered ICU beds and COVID-19 cold storage units wort P758,750 to the Palawan provincial government.

The donation was made in response to the request of the Palawan provincial government amid a surge of COVID-19 cases in the province, the US Embassy says in a media release.

“This donation will help the people of Palawan a lot by upgrading our ability to fight against the pandemic.  It comes at the perfect time due to the surge of new cases and will help us face this new challenge," Palawan Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction Office director Jeremias Alili says.

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