Thursday, July 18, 2024
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US Urges China to Halt Harassment of Philippine Vessels in West Philippine Sea

The United States has called on China to cease its harassment of Filipino vessels amid escalating tensions in the West Philippine Sea (WPS). Speaking at the East-West Center’s International Media Conference in Manila on Wednesday, US Ambassador MaryKay Carlson emphasized America’s support for the Philippines in the ongoing territorial dispute.

Carlson urged the People’s Republic of China to stop disrupting the Philippines’ sovereign rights to explore, utilize, and manage resources within its exclusive economic zones (EEZs). She highlighted the increasing global opposition to threats against peace and stability in the South China Sea.

The ambassador’s remarks came in the wake of a recent incident where China Coast Guard (CCG) vessels repeatedly rammed Philippine Navy rubber boats, resulting in injuries to Philippine sailors and damage to their vessels. The Philippine government has since sent a diplomatic note to China and is considering summoning the Chinese ambassador to explain the aggressive actions.

Defense Secretary Gilberto Teodoro Jr. condemned the incident as an “aggressive and illegal use of force,” while videos and photos released by the Philippine military showed the extent of the damage inflicted by the CCG personnel, who were also seen brandishing weapons.

In her speech, Carlson also highlighted ongoing US-Philippines projects, including a Cyber-Digital Policy Dialogue scheduled for July, aimed at enhancing digital connectivity and cybersecurity cooperation. She praised the strong partnership between the two nations, which includes joint maritime patrols.

Foreign Affairs Secretary Enrique Manalo underscored the crucial role of journalists in providing accurate information about the territorial dispute. He warned against disinformation and cyberattacks that distort public perception and emphasized the importance of genuine reporting to counter false narratives.

The 2016 arbitral ruling by an international tribunal in The Hague, which invalidated China’s extensive claims over the South China Sea, remains a significant point of contention. China continues to reject this ruling, despite overlapping claims with several Southeast Asian nations.

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