Peaceful resolution through UNCLOS, not water cannons, says EU envoy

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Peaceful resolution through UNCLOS, not water cannons, says EU envoy
This handout photo taken and released on December 10, 2023 by the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) shows the M/L Kalayaan chartered supply boat (R) being towed after a Chinese coast guard ship unleashed water cannon onto the vessel, during a mission to deliver provisions at Second Thomas Shoal in disputed waters of the South China Sea.
Handout / Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) / AFP

MANILA, Philippines — Peaceful resolutions of maritime disputes can be achieved through international mechanisms, not dangerous maneuvers and the use of water cannons, the European Union’s envoy said, following the latest confrontation between Manila and Beijing in the West Philippine Sea. 

The China Coast Guard (CCG) rammed and fired water cannons at Philippine vessels during a resupply mission to BRP Sierra Madre in Ayungin Shoal, damaging parts of the boats and putting the lives of crew members at risk, the Philippine Coast Guard said. 

Ambassador Luc Véron described Sunday’s incident as “deeply troubling” as he stressed the importance of dispute settlement mechanisms under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) in maintaining the rule of law. 

“The 2016 UNCLOS tribunal award is a valuable framework for peaceful resolution. Water cannons and dangerous sea maneuvers aren’t a legitimate alternative,” he said on X, formerly Twitter. 

The Embassy of New Zealand also said it was deeply concerned at “multiple incidents of dangerous actions toward the Philippines.”

“These actions pose real risks to safety and lives, and risk undermining regional stability,” it said.

The latest confrontation between Philippine and Chinese vessels comes a day after the CCG also used water cannons to prevent vessels of the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources from approaching Filipino fishing boats near Bajo de Masinloc off Zambales. 

“France reiterates the importance of UNCLOS to ensure freedom of navigation and recalls the 2016 arbitral award,” French Ambassador Marie Fontanel said. 

China asserts sovereignty over almost the entire South China Sea, including parts claimed by the Philippines, despite the international ruling that deemed its stance to have no legal basis.

In a post on X, United States Ambassador MaryKay Carlson said that Washington “stands with the Philippines and partners in vehemently condemning the [People’s Republic of China’s] repeated illegal and dangerous actions against Philippine vessels.”

The CCG, however, accused a Philippine boat of “deliberately colliding” with a Chinese vessel. 

Hours before the latest incident, a convoy of civilian boats planning to deliver provisions to Filipino fishermen and troops in the disputed waterway. But organizers said they would change course after the incident and go directly to Lawak Island. — with report from Agence France-Presse


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