MANILA - The United States has urged the Philippines and China to avoid using "coercion and intimidation" in asserting their claims in the disputed South China Sea, its embassy in Manila said Friday.
"Our position on the South China Sea is clear: We support lawful uses of the sea, respect for international law, unimpeded lawful commerce, and peace and stability," the US embassy said in a statement.
The embassy issued the statement after a Chinese ship rammed into an anchored Filipino boat near Reed Bank last Sunday, leaving 22 Filipino fishermen at sea.
The fishermen were rescued by a Vietnamese fishing vessel in coordination with the Philippine military.
"We saw news reports of the collision at sea. We are thankful none of the Filipino fishermen lost their lives and glad that Vietnamese fishermen rescued them from the open sea," the US embassy said.
The fishermen have returned to San Jose, Occidental Mindoro on Friday night.
Junel Insigne, captain of the Filipino boat, earlier said the Chinese saw their vessel sinking and even turned off their lights before leaving them at sea.
The Chinese Embassy in Manila, however, said the captain of the Chinese ship attempted to rescue the fishermen but was "afraid of being besieged by other Filipino fishing boats."