US warns China after South China Sea standoff with Philippines

Washington says it stands by Manila amid an 'escalation that threatens regional peace and stability'


Reuters November 19, 2021
Philippine Marines fold a Philippine national flag during a flag retreat at the BRP Sierra Madre, a marooned transport ship in the disputed Second Thomas Shoal, part of the Spratly Islands in the South China Sea, March 29, 2014. PHOTO: REUTERS

MANILA:

The United States on Friday warned China after a standoff in the South China Sea between China and the Philippines, saying it stood by Manila amid an "escalation that directly threatens regional peace and stability".

Beijing "should not interfere with lawful Philippine activities in the Philippines’ exclusive economic zone", US State Department Ned Price said in a statement.

On Thursday, the Philippines condemned "in strongest terms" the actions of three Chinese coast guard vessels that it said blocked and used water cannon on resupply boats headed towards a Philippine-occupied atoll in the South China Sea.

Also read: Philippines protests China's 'illegal' South China Sea presence

"The United States stands with our Philippine allies in upholding the rules-based international maritime order and reaffirms that an armed attack on Philippine public vessels in the South China Sea would invoke US mutual defense commitments," Price said.

"The United States strongly believes that PRC (People's Republic of China) actions asserting its expansive and unlawful South China Sea maritime claims undermine peace and security in the region," he added.

The incident came as US President Joe Biden and Chinese President Xi Jinping discussed a range of issues in a three-hour video call.

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