By Pacific Island Times News Staff
The United States has expressed its support for the Philippines in calling on China to respect international law in the South China Sea and end its encroachment on the Philippines' waters.
"We share the Philippines’ concerns regarding the PRC’s provocative actions interfering with Philippine sovereign rights within the Philippine exclusive economic zone near Second Thomas Shoal and massing vessels near Whitsun Reef," said Ned Price, spokesperson for the U.S. State Department.
The Philippines earlier lodged a new diplomatic protest against China's maritime activities within Manila's 200-mile exclusive economic zone.
The latest filing added to more than 300 complaints tossed against Beijing for its illegal activities in the South China Sea.
"These actions are part of a broader trend of China provocations against South China Sea claimants and other states lawfully operating in the region," Price said. "The United States stands with our ally, the Philippines, in upholding the rules-based international order and freedom of navigation in the South China Sea, as guaranteed under international law."
In a statement last week, the National Youth Movement for the West Philippine Sea called on Philippine officials "to assert, as they both promised, our sovereign rights in the West Philippine Sea and to uphold the constitutional mandate to defend our territorial integrity and national interest"
"The Chinese vessels operating within the Philippines’ exclusive economic zone or EEZ and territorial waters must be immediately expelled, the group said in an Independence Day statement on June 12.
"Many of us may not realize that we have lost our freedom again 27 years ago when an imperialist China illegally grabbed our territory, the Panganiban Reef or Mischief Reef from us, and now it is already a military base of China," the youth movement said.
"Acting like modern-day conquistadors, they have cemented their hold since then; sending more men and more ships to engage in a series of coercive activities in our seas, usurping our sovereignty. Since then, they have dredged more of our centuries-old reefs and created islands out of them-for military purposes," the group added.
China created an artificial island in Zamora Reef located 12 nautical miles from Pagasa Island, Kalayaan, Palawan.
"Their bellicose actions have hurt our country in many, unprecedented ways, especially during this Covid 19 pandemic; our economy is severely affected, with our countrymen deprived of thousands of jobs and lost income. Most of all, they have disturbed the harmonious status quo in the region," the youth group said.
China's actions, the group said, have incited countries in the region to an arms race, forcing governments to buy guns and missiles from funds that were meant for books, housing and medicines.
"And in every passing day, that this issue is not resolved despite the victory of the Philippines against China’s nine-dash line claims in the West Philippine Sea at the Arbitral Tribunal on July 12, 2016, the more that the grim specter of conflict looms," the youth group said.