'Illegal, Aggressive, Reckless': China Slammed For Provocative Moves Against Philippines In South China Sea

(MENAFN- IANS) New Delhi, June 18 (IANS) The Australian government on Tuesday expressed its grave concern over the "dangerous and illegal actions" by China against Philippine vessels within the Philippines' Exclusive Economic Zone on Monday.

"China's vessels engaged in dangerous manoeuvres and illegal conduct, including the ramming of Philippine vessels, resulting in injury to crew and damage to vessels. The Australian government is deeply concerned by reports of the forcible boarding and towing of Philippine vessels and the seizure of equipment," the Australian Foreign Ministry said in a statement.

Citing the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), Canberra said that all states have a responsibility to adhere to international law, which is essential to peace and stability, including in the South China Sea.

"This is an escalation in a pattern of deeply concerning and destabilising behaviour by China. This conduct endangers peace and security in the region, threatens lives and livelihoods, and creates risks of miscalculation and escalation," it said.

The Philippines' Defence Ministry said on Monday that a routine rotation and resupply mission conducted by its Armed Forces (AFP) and the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) at Ayungin Shoal was disrupted by the "illegal and aggressive actions" of Chinese maritime forces.

"The People's Liberation Army-Navy (PLA-N), China Coast Guard (CCG), and Chinese Maritime Militia (CMM) vessels engaged in dangerous maneuvers, including ramming and towing. Despite the illegal, aggressive, and reckless actions by the Chinese maritime forces, our personnel showed restraint and professionalism, refrained from escalating the tension, and carried on with their mission," said the National Task Force for the West Philippine Sea.

"The Philippines is committed to pursuing peaceful and responsible actions in accordance with international law. It is our expectation that China, as a member of the international community, would also do the same," it added.

Several countries, including the United States and Japan, have also condemned the Chinese action, calling it "escalatory and irresponsible".

"Japan reiterates its grave concern over the repeated dangerous and aggressive actions by CCG which put the Philippines personnel at risk and damaged their boats. We stand with the Philippines and cooperate with like-minded countries in maintaining and enhancing the free and open international order based on the rule of law," said the Ambassador of Japan in the Philippines.

The US stated that it also stands with its "ally" the Philippines as the Chinese vessels' dangerous and deliberate use of water cannons, ramming, blocking maneuvers, and towing damaged Philippine vessels, endangered the lives of Philippine service members, is reckless, and threatens regional peace and stability.

"This escalatory incident is the latest in a series of PRC provocations to impede critically needed supplies from reaching service members stationed at the BRP Sierra Madre. On May 19, PRC Coast Guard harassed Philippine service members being medically evacuated and unlawfully seized airdropped provisions.

"In addition, on numerous occasions over the past year, they have used water cannons and dangerous maneuvers against Philippine routine supply missions. Beijing's actions reflect consistent disregard for the safety of Filipinos and for international law in the South China Sea," said Matthew Miller, spokesperson for the US State Department.



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