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US lawmakers condemn China over WPS collision

MANILA, Philippines — Four American lawmakers yesterday condemned the China Coast Guard (CCG) and maritime militia’s act of “intentionally hitting” Philippine ships in Ayungin (Second Thomas) Shoal last Sunday.

In a statement, US House of Representatives foreign affairs committee chairman Michael McCaul, ranking committee member New York Rep. Gregory Meeks, subcommittee on the Indo-Pacific chair California Rep. Young Kim and California Rep. Ami Bera expressed their support for the Philippines and the joint patrols between the US, the Philippines and other countries in the South China Sea.

“We unequivocally support the Philippines and condemn the unlawful actions by the Chinese Coast Guard in South China Sea,” the lawmakers said.

“The Chinese Coast Guard and maritime militia vessels intentionally hit Philippine Coast Guard ships over the weekend and continue to violate international law, endanger Filipino crew members and obstruct Philippine vessels’ access in their own exclusive economic zone (EEZ),” they added.

The incident is part of a larger pattern of the People’s Liberation Army Navy, the maritime militia and the CCG’s aggressive and provocative behavior in the South China Sea, where China actively intrudes in other states’ EEZs, according to the lawmakers.

“We condemn Beijing’s maritime intimidation and welcome the Biden administration’s announcement to increase joint patrols with the Philippines and other partners in South China Sea and its reaffirmation to uphold its commitment under the US-Philippine Mutual Defense Treaty (MDT),” they said.

An arbitral tribunal constituted under the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea rejected China’s expansive claims in South China Sea, including areas determined by the tribunal to be part of the Philippines’ EEZ and continental shelf and resources.

The US reiterated its support for the Philippines following China’s dangerous and unlawful actions in Ayungin Shoal last Sunday as the US renewed its warning that it would defend its treaty ally in case of an armed attack in the disputed waters.

US National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan spoke over the phone with Philippine National Security Adviser Eduardo