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United States: China disregarding international sea law

MANILA, Philippines — The United States denounced China’s aggression in the West Philippine Sea on Saturday, which injured three Philippine Navy personnel and caused significant damage to a supply vessel, as Washington called on Beijing to abide by the 2016 arbitral ruling.

“The PRC (People’s Republic of China)’s actions are destabilizing to the region and show clear disregard for international law,” State Department spokesperson Matthew Miller said in a statement.

“PRC ships’ repeated employment of water cannons and reckless blocking maneuvers resulted in injuries to Filipino service members and significant damage to their resupply vessel, rendering it immobile,” he said.

The incident, he said, marked only the latest in China’s repeated obstruction of Philippine vessels’ exercise of high seas freedom of navigation and disruption of supply lines to Filipino service members at Ayungin Shoal of necessary provisions.

“As provided under the 1982 Law of the Sea Convention, the 2016 arbitral decision is final and legally binding on the PRC and the Philippines, and the United States calls upon the PRC to abide by the ruling and desist from its dangerous and destabilizing conduct,” he said

Miller said China has no lawful maritime claims to the waters around Ayungin Shoal, a low tide feature clearly within the Philippines’ exclusive economic zone.

The US also reaffirmed that Article IV of the 1951 US-Philippines Mutual Defense Treaty extends to armed attacks on Philippine armed forces, public vessels, or aircraft – including those of its Coast Guard – anywhere in the South China Sea.

Three Philippine Navy members were injured in the latest China Coast Guard water cannon attack on a Filipino supply vessel, National Security Adviser Eduardo Año said yesterday.

The Philippine government said Saturday’s confrontation caused severe damage to the Unaizah May 4 vessel while it was on its way to deliver troops and provisions to the BRP Sierra Madre in Ayungin (Second Thomas) Shoal.

China claims almost the entire South China Sea, brushing off rival claims from other countries, including the Philippines, and an international ruling that its assertion has no legal basis.

Año did