Australia and Canada joined a host of western powers including the UK in condemning China’s growing aggression in the South China Sea off the Philippines. The condemnation comes days after 220 Chinese ships were spotted moored near the Julian Felipe Reef inside the Philippines’ Exclusive Economic Zone and Continental Shelf. China’s most recent provocation comes only days after US Secretary of State Antony Blinken met his Chinese counterpart at a tense summit in Alaska to discuss China’s aggressive diplomatic activities.
In a statement on Twitter, Canada’s ambassador to the Philippines Peter MacArthur said: “Canada opposes recent Chinese actions in the South China Sea, including off the coast of the Philippines, that escalate tensions and undermine regional stability and the rules-based international order.”
Australia, Japan, the US and Britain also hit back at China’s dangerous behaviour in the volatile South China Sea as the East Asian nation pushes its hardline diplomacy around the world.
Retired Supreme Court Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio from the Philippines warned China’s actions may be the start of a serious attempt by China to begin occupation in the region.
While the US Embassy said:
“The [People’s Republic of China] uses maritime militia to intimidate, provoke, and threaten other nations, which undermines peace and security in the region.”
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The US Embassy added: “We share the concerns of our Philippine allies, we stand with the Philippines, our oldest treaty ally in Asia.”
But on Monday the Chinese Embassy in the Philippines hit back at the US branding it “not a party to the South China Sea issue.”
The embassy denied allegations the Chinese vessels are part of Beijing’s army instead describing them as ‘fishing vessels’ taking shelter due to “rough sea conditions.”
The Chinese wrongly asserted the reef where the ships are moored is part of Chinese territory though this is not the case. Despite this, China has continued to construct military bases and asserting power in the South China Sea which is a crucial and strategic waterway in the region for trade and defence.
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Earlier the Philippine foreign ministry spoke out against China’s reckless actions.
In a statement, the ministry said: “The continued deployment, lingering presence and activities of Chinese vessels infringe upon Philippine sovereignty.
“Their swarming and threatening presence creates an atmosphere of instability.”
The ministry demanded that the Chinese remove their ships immediately.
Last week US Secretary of State Antony Blinken met with his Chinese counterpart to discuss US/China relations at a summit in Anchorage, Alaska.
Tensions simmered after China took offence to the USA’s hardline challenging of China’s dangerous diplomacy activities in the South China Sea, in Hong Kong, Cyber attacks against the USA as well as their treatment of Uyghurs in Western China.
In response, China’s director of foreign affairs Yang Jiechi hit back saying “I think we thought too well of the United States, we thought that the US side would follow the necessary diplomatic protocols.”
The news comes as this week the U.K. and several western nations placed tough sanctions on four Chinese officials for China’s shocking treatment of Uyghur Muslims in the Western Chinese province of Xinjiang which many accept as a genocide.