May 27, 2024

Brighton Journal

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The US says the Chinese coast guard is harassing Philippine ships

The US says the Chinese coast guard is harassing Philippine ships

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The United States called on China on Saturday to stop harassing Philippine ships in the South China Sea, vowing to stand with the Philippines at a time of geopolitical tensions.

“We call on Beijing to cease its provocative and unsafe behaviour,” the US State Department said in a statement.

The Philippines on Friday accused the Chinese coast guard of adopting “aggressive tactics” following an incident during a Philippine coast guard patrol near the Philippine-controlled Than Thomas Shoal, a flashpoint for past disputes located 105 nautical miles (195 km) off its coast.

Thomas Scholl II is home to a small military contingent aboard a rusting World War II-era American ship that was deliberately moored in 1999 to bolster the Philippines’ territorial claims. In February, the Philippines said a Chinese ship directed a “military laser” at one of its resupply ships.

China claims sovereignty over nearly the entire South China Sea using a “line of nine dashes” on maps that extend more than 1,500 kilometers from its mainland and cut across the exclusive economic zones of Vietnam, the Philippines, Malaysia, Brunei and Indonesia. An international arbitration award in 2016 rejected this line as having no legal basis.

China’s Foreign Ministry said on Friday that Philippine ships entered Chinese waters and took deliberate provocative steps.

The State Department said Washington “stands with our Filipino allies in support of the rules-based international maritime order.”

Reporting by Jason Lang. Editing by Daniel Wallis

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