US, Canada condemn dangerous Chinese maneuver off Ayungin Shoal

The United States on Sunday denounced the Chinese Coast Guard’s dangerous maneuvers against a Philippine resupply boat which resulted in a collision between the two vessels off Ayungin Shoal.

Ambassador MaryKay Carlson said the US condemned China’s “latest disruption of a legal Philippine resupply mission to Ayungin Shoal,” also known by its international name Second Thomas Shoal, and for “putting the lives of Filipino service members at risk.”

“We stand with our #FriendsPartnersAllies in protecting Philippine sovereignty and in support of a #FreeAndOpenIndoPacific,” Carlson said on X.

Washington has repeatedly said it stands by its 1951 Mutual Defense Treaty commitments with the Philippines if Filipinos come under an armed attack in the disputed waters.

The MDT, a 1951 defense pact signed between Manila and Washington, binds the two allies to come to each other’s aid from aggression and help defend the other party.

Although not a party to the disputes, the US maintained that keeping the South China Sea – a major trade route – open and accessible was within its national interest.

The Canadian Embassy in the Philippines, meanwhile, also condemned the collision, saying it was provoked by CCG’s “unlawful and dangerous conduct.”

“The PRC’s (People’s Republic of China) actions are unjustified. China has no lawful claim to the West Philippine Sea. Its actions are incompatible with the obligations of a signatory to the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea,” the embassy said in a statement.

“Continuing acts of intimidation and coercion undermine safety, stability, and security across the region, and increase the risk of miscalculation,” it added.

The Canadian Embassy also commended the professionalism and restraint exercised by the PCG amid the incident.

“Canada affirms its support for a rules-based order in the South China Sea consistent w/ international law, including UNCLOS and the 2016 Arbitral decision, which is final and binding on the parties,” it said.

The National Task Force for the West Philippine Sea (NTF-WPS) reported that the “dangerous blocking maneuvers” of CCG vessel 5203 on Sunday morning caused the collision with the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP)-contracted indigenous resupply boat Unaiza May 2 (UM2) approximately 13.5 nautical miles east northeast of the BRP Sierra Madre.

During the same resupply mission, the NTF-WPS said Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) vessel MRRV 4409’s port side was also “bumped” by Chinese maritime militia vessel 00003 (CMMV 00003) while it was lying approximately 6.4 nautical miles northeast of Ayungin Shoal.

The Philippine ship BRP Sierra Madre has been grounded at the Ayungin Shoal since 1999. Several marines and sailors are aboard the ship, which has become a symbol of Philippine sovereignty in the offshore territory.

The CCG, however, said on Sunday it “lawfully” blocked Philippine vessels transporting “illegal construction materials” to BRP Sierra Madre. — Giselle Ombay/DVM, GMA Integrated News

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