US urges China to ‘desist from provocative, unsafe conduct’ in SCS

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, April 30) — The United States on Saturday urged China to "desist from its provocative and unsafe conduct" in the South China Sea after a Chinese ship conducted dangerous maneuvers that nearly led to a collision with a Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) vessel in the disputed waters.

“The United States stands with The Philippines in the face of the People’s Republic of China (PRC) Coast Guard’s continued infringement upon freedom of navigation in the South China Sea. Imagery and video recently published in the media is a stark reminder of PRC harassment and intimidation of Philippine vessels as they undertake routine patrols within their exclusive economic zone,” the US Embassy said in a statement.

“We call upon Beijing to desist from its provocative and unsafe conduct. The United States continues to track and monitor these interactions closely,” it added.

Washington also reiterated its support for Manila and its mutual defense commitments under the 1951 Mutual Defense Treaty.

"The United States stands with our Philippine allies in upholding the rules-based international maritime order and reaffirms that an armed attack in the Pacific, which includes the South China Sea, on Philippine armed forces, public vessels, or aircraft, including those of the Coast Guard, would invoke U.S. mutual defense commitments under Article IV of the 1951 U.S. Philippines Mutual Defense Treaty," the US said.

The PCG confirmed reports of a near-collision in the vicinity of Ayungin Shoal located 105 nautical miles west of Palawan on April 23 after a Chinese Coast Guard (CCG) ship with bow number 5201 maintained a perilous distance of only 50 yards from the Philippines’ BRP Malapascua.

Another CCG vessel, with bow number 4202, persistently tailed the Philippines’ BRP Malabrigo at a distance of 700 yards and closely monitored its movements.

The PCG also said that from April 18 to 24, over 100 Chinese ships still lingered in the West Philippine Sea even after being asked to leave.

READ: PCG reports near-collision due to Chinese ship’s ‘dangerous’ maneuvers in Ayungin Shoal

In a Twitter post on Sunday, Australian Ambassador to the Philippines HK Yu also called out China’s conduct in the South China Sea.

“Concerned by further reports of unprofessional and dangerous conduct against the Philippines in its Exclusive Economic Zone, Australia reiterates our call for peace, stability, and respect for UNCLOS (United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea) in the South China Sea, a vital international waterway,” Yu said.

The Philippines and Australia also share an MDT. The two countries earlier said they were exploring possible joint patrols over the West Philippine Sea.

The Department of Foreign Affairs earlier said Beijing’s aggressive actions against Manila continues on a “daily” basis in the West Philippine Sea.

READ: DFA: Chinese harassment in West PH Sea a ‘daily’ occurrence