Ayungin Shoal incident with China draws support for PH's rules-based stance

Australia, Japan, France, and Germany have expressed “serious concerns” on the latest incident between China and the Philippines in the Ayungin Shoal and urged China to abide by international maritime laws, particularly the landmark 2016 Arbitral Tribunal ruling that invalidated Beijing’s sweeping claims based on its nine-dash line.


“Australia has consistently expressed support for UNCLOS, the 2016 South China Sea Arbitral Award and an open and inclusive region. We continue to work with and support our (Philippine) partners on maritime issues and are concerned with recent destabilising incidents in the SCS (West Philippine Sea),” Australian Ambassador to the Philippines Steven Robinson said in a Twitter post.

The UNCLOS refers to the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), the basis of international maritime laws, under which the Philippines pursued the arbitration case against China in 2013.

Japanese Ambassador to the Philippines Koshikawa Kazuhiko also asked China to comply with the 2016 Arbitral Award by the Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA).

“Japan strongly opposes any unilateral attempts to change the status quo in the East & South China Seas. Compliance with the 2016 Arbitral Award and the principle of peaceful settlement of disputes based on int'l law, UNCLOS, are vital for peace & prosperity for the region,” his tweet read.

France and Germany also released a joint statement, too, which they posted on Twitter.

“(Germany) & (France) share serious concerns on latest incident caused by 3 Chinese vessels against 2 (Philippine) supply boats in #SouthChinaSea. We call to refrain from conduct that endangers stability in #IndoPacific. Firmly support dialogue between stakeholders, on the basis of int'l law #UNCLOS,” Ambassador Anke Reiffenstuel of Germany and French Ambassador Michele Boccoz said.

These came on the heels of the United States standing by the Philippines by warning Beijing over its aggressive actions in the region.

READ: US stands with PH over Ayungin Shoal incident involving Chinese vessels

“The United States stands with our ally, the Philippines, in the face of this escalation that directly threatens regional peace and stability, escalates regional tensions, infringes upon freedom of navigation in the South China Sea as guaranteed under international law, and undermines the rules-based international order,” U.S. State Department spokesperson Ned Price said in a statement on Friday.

It cited the 2016 Arbitral Ruling in favor of the Philippines, which “delivered a unanimous and enduring decision firmly rejecting the PRC’s (People’s Republic of China) claims to Second Thomas Shoal and to waters determined to be part of the Philippines’ exclusive economic zone.”

Washington reaffirmed that “an armed attack on Philippine public vessels in the South China Sea would invoke U.S. mutual defense commitments under Article IV of the 1951 U.S. Philippines Mutual Defense Treaty.”

On Thursday, November 18, officials said three Chinese Coast Guard vessels blocked and fired water cannons on two Philippine boats transporting supplies to military personnel in Ayungin Shoal.

The Department of Foreign (DFA) protested the action, relaying its “outrage, condemnation and protest” against what it called the “illegal” acts of the Chinese Coast Guard.

READ: 'Illegal acts': DFA condemns China Coast Guard's blocking of PH supply boats in Ayungjn Shoal

The agency also said that the incident “threatens the special relationship" between the Philippines and China.

But Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian maintained that the two Philippine supply boats "trespassed" into Chinese waters “without China's consent."

The Ayungin Shoal lies 105 nautical miles (194 kilometers) west of the Palawan province in the Philippines and is within the country's 200-nautical-mile exclusive economic zone.