The European Union (EU) and Canada are the latest to join the snowballing call of the international community in denouncing China’s “unilateral actions” in the South China Sea or the West Philippines Sea following the deployment and lingering of more than 200 Chinese vessels near the Julian Felipe Reef (Whitsun Reef).
EU Foreign Minister Joseph Borrell Fontelles emphasized their position during the EU-ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) ministerial meeting on March 23, 2021.
“We cannot allow countries to unilaterally undermine international law and maritime security in the South China Sea, thereby representing a serious threat to the peaceful development of the region,” Fontelles said.
In Manila, EU Delegation Ambassador Luc Véron maintained that Europe “stands by the rules-based order” or the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) of 1982.
Hours earlier on Thursday, Canadian Ambassador to the Philippines Peter MacArthur said the government in Ottawa is against the recent Chinese actions in the South China Sea, including the incident in Julian Felipe Reef which is within the Philippines’ exclusive economic zone (EEZ).
“Canada opposes recent Chinese actions in the South China Sea, including off the coast of the Philippines, that escalates tensions and undermine regional stability and the rules-based international order,” MacArthur said in a tweet.
The Chinese Embassy in Manila, who has lately become voracious in social media, lashed out at the diplomats of countries criticizing China on the South China Sea issue for their alleged “irresponsible comments”.
“Neither these diplomats understand the basic facts, nor do they have the ability to think and judge independently. But they came out with irresponsible comments, using the same scripts,” the Chinese Embassy said.
Other countries that have already expressed their concerns over the development in the South China Sea were the United States, Japan, Australia, and the United Kingdom.