MANILA (UPDATED) — The United States on Saturday stressed its support for the Philippines against "repeated harassment" in the South China Sea, a day after Chinese vessels attempted to block another resupply mission to the BRP Sierra Madre on Ayungin Shoal in the West Philippine Sea.
The Philippines' partners like the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia and New Zealand have also voiced concern over the incident, which the National Task Force on the WPS said included the use of a water cannon.
"The United States stands shoulder-to-shoulder with our Philippine ally in the face of the People’s Republic of China’s (PRC) repeated harassment in the South China Sea," the US Department of State said.
"The PRC’s actions are inconsistent with international law and follow a pattern of dangerous operational behavior in the South China Sea," it also said as it highlighted the 2016 arbitral ruling that China has repeatedly rejected.
The state department reiterated that armed attacks on Philippine military personnel and vessels as well as on public vessels are covered by the 1951 Mutual Defense Treaty
"We urge the PRC to respect the high seas freedoms of navigation guaranteed to all States under international law," it said.
Manila on Friday said Chinese vessels "recklessly harassed, blocked, executed dangerous maneuvers" as they tried to "illegally impede or obstruct a routine resupply" of Filipino troops at the outpost.
'HARASSMENT WON'T BE TOLERATED'
Canada, New Zealand, and Australia on social media site X raised concerns over the latest "dangerous" action by Beijing, which they said affects regional peace and stability.
"We call for all parties to refrain from actions which risk safety and undermine regional stability, and for peaceful resolution of disputes in accordance with UNCLOS," New Zealand Ambassador Peter Kell also said.
Upholding international law, especially UNCLOS, is fundamental to international peace and security," said Australian Ambassador HK Yu.
The United Kingdom, through British Ambassador Laure Beaufil, said they join the Philippines "in calling out actions that undermine" peace and stability in the South China Sea.
"We are committed to UNCLOS, under which 2016 Arbitral Award is final & legally binding on both parties," Beaufils said.
The Philippines in 2016 won against China before an international court, which invalidated its vast claims over the South China Sea, where the smaller West Philippine Sea is located. Beijing however continues to ignore that ruling.
Japan meanwhile said that "[a]ny harassment & actions which increase tensions are not tolerated."
"We give high importance to a free & open maritime order based on the rule of law as JP-PHdiscussed during PM visit last week," Ambassador of Japan in the Philippines Koshikawa Kazuhiko wrote on X.
EU Ambassador to the Philippines Luc Véron also expressed support to the Philippines in its call for the full observance of international law in the disputed seas.