Washington: The United States stands with the Philippines after the latter’s recent standoff with China in the South China Sea, State Department spokesman Ned Price said on Friday.
“The United States stands with our ally, the Philippines, in the face of this escalation that directly threatens regional peace and stability, escalates regional tensions, infringes upon freedom of navigation in the South China Sea as guaranteed under international law, and undermines the rules-based international order,” he said.
According to Price, Washington “strongly believes that PRC actions asserting its expansive and unlawful South China Sea maritime claims undermine peace and security in the region.”
On Thursday, China said two supply vessels from the Philippines trespassed the waters of the disputed Nansha Islands without Beijing’s consent, prompting Chinese coast guard ships to take necessary measures.
China’s Coast Guard ships blocked two Philippine boats carrying food to the military on an island in the South China Sea. The Philippine Foreign Ministry condemned China’s actions, which, in its opinion, could threaten relations between Beijing and Manila.
For decades, China has been in disputes with several countries in the Asia-Pacific region over the territorial belonging of a number of islands in the South China Sea, on the shelf of which significant reserves of hydrocarbons have been discovered.
The situation in the region is complicated by regular passages of American warships, which, according to the Chinese Foreign Ministry, violate international law and undermine China’s sovereignty and security. Despite protests from Beijing, Washington has repeatedly said the United States will sail wherever international law permits.