MANILA, Philippines — The European Union joined the U.S. in criticizing China’s ongoing maritime provocations toward the Philippines in the West Philippine Sea over the weekend, with Brussels accusing Beijing of making waves that “endanger peace and stability in the region.”
“The EU reiterates its strong opposition to any unilateral actions that could undermine regional stability and the international rules-based order,” the bloc said in reference to a biting standoff near the waterway’s vital global shipping routes.
Roughly 200 Chinese vessels have been massed for weeks near an area of the South China Sea known as Whitsun Reef, which is situated within the Philippine Exclusive Economic Zone.
With the Chinese ships accused of blocking the Philippines from accessing the reef, Manilla has responded by flying warplanes over the area, triggering fears in Washington of a potential escalation.
Biden administration officials have said they stand by America’s alliance with the Philippines and would regard any attack on any Philippines territory as covered under the U.S.-Philippines Mutual Defense Treaty.
Secretary of State Antony Blinken raised the treaty in an early April phone call with Philippine Secretary of Foreign Affairs Teodoro Locsin. During the call, the two “shared concerns with the massing of [People’s Republic of China] maritime militia vessels in the West Philippine Sea, including at Whitsun Reef,” State Department spokesman Ned Price said in a statement at the time.
Mr. Price said they also “reiterated their calls on the PRC to abide by the 2016 arbitration ruling issued pursuant to the Law of the Sea Convention,” a reference to a ruling by the United Nations-backed body known by the acronym “UNCLOS,” which disputed Chinese sovereignty claims over most of the South China Sea back in 2016.
SOURCE: Washington Times