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

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

Bella Perez-Rubio (Philstar.com) - February 20, 2021 - 2:39pm

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."

As It Happens
LATEST UPDATE: April 9, 2021 - 10:33am

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)

April 9, 2021 - 10:33am

In a phone call earlier today, Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. and US State Secretary Antony Blinken shared concerns with the massing of Chinese maritime militia vessels in the West Philippine Sea, including Julian Felipe (Whitsun) Reef, US State Department Ned Price says.

The two foreign ministers also reiterate their calls on China to abide by the 2016 arbitration ruling issued pursuant to the Law of the Sea Convention.

"Secretary Blinken also reaffirmed the applicability of the 1951 U.S.-Philippine Mutual Defense Treaty to the South China Sea," Price says.

April 8, 2021 - 7:27am

The United States reiterates its commitment to its Mutual Defense Treaty with the Philippines amid the continuing presence of Chinese militia ships in the West Philippine Sea.

US State Department spokesperson Ned Price echoes the earlier statement of State Secretary Antony Blinken, expressing concerns on the latest development in Julian Felipe (Whitsun) Reef.

"As we have stated before, an armed attack against the Philippines armed forces, public vessels, or aircraft in the Pacific, including in the South China Sea, will trigger our obligations under the U.S.-Philippines Mutual Defense Treaty," Price tells reporters in a press briefing on Wednesday.

The transcript of this press briefing can be accessed here.

March 29, 2021 - 8:22am

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken reiterates the position of Washington on the presence of China's maritime militia at Julian Felipe Reef in the West Philippine Sea.

"We will always stand by our allies and stand up for the rules-based international order," Blinken tweets Monday morning (Manila time).

March 16, 2021 - 2:49pm

The United States hands over P3.7 million ($75,000) worth of underwater equipment to the Philippine National Police - Maritime Group in support of its underwater crime scene investigation program.

On Monday, representatives from the US Department of State, US Department of Defense and US Coast Guard turned over 12 sets of scuba gear, underwater evidence collection items and some related training equipment to PNP-MG director PBrig. Gen. John Mitchell Jamili.

The US has funded the PNP's underwater crime scene investigation program since 2016.

March 5, 2021 - 2:10pm

The United States, the biggest COVAX donor, welcomes the arrival of 487,200 doses of AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccines in the Philippines, the US Embassy in Manila says.

The US has so far donated P97.2 billion ($2 billion) to COVAX "to ensure the Philippines and other countries receive COVID-19 vaccines."

"As we fight the pandemic together, the United States will continue to support the Philippines’ vaccination and COVID-19 mitigation efforts," US Embassy Chargé d’Affaires John Law says.

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