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U.S. Support for the Philippines in the South China Sea!

PRESS STATEMENT

MATTHEW MILLER, DEPARTMENT SPOKESPERSON

The United States stands with its ally the Philippines and condemns the escalatory and irresponsible actions by the People’s Republic of China (PRC) to deny the Philippines from lawfully delivering humanitarian supplies to service members stationed at the BRP Sierra Madre on June 17.  PRC vessels’ dangerous and deliberate use of water cannons, ramming, blocking maneuvers, and towing damaged Philippine vessels, endangered the lives of Philippine service members, is reckless, and threatens regional peace and stability.

This escalatory incident is the latest in a series of PRC provocations to impede critically needed supplies from reaching service members stationed at the BRP Sierra Madre.  On May 19, PRC Coast Guard harassed Philippine service members being medically evacuated and unlawfully seized airdropped provisions.  In addition, on numerous occasions over the past year, they have used water cannons and dangerous maneuvers against Philippine routine supply missions.  Beijing’s actions reflect consistent disregard for the safety of Filipinos and for international law in the South China Sea.

As unanimously decided by an international tribunal in July 2016, the PRC has no lawful maritime claims to the waters around Second Thomas Shoal – a low-tide feature clearly within the Philippines’ exclusive economic zone.  As provided under the 1982 Law of the Sea Convention, the decision is final and legally binding on the PRC and the Philippines.

The United States reaffirms that Article IV of the 1951 United States-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.

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