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US Urges China to End Harassment of Philippine Vessels in West Philippine Sea

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MANILA, Philippines — The United States has called on China to cease its harassment of Philippine vessels and interference in the West Philippine Sea, emphasizing the need for stability and adherence to international law in the region.

US Ambassador MaryKay Carlson, speaking at the East-West Center’s International Media Conference on Wednesday, highlighted the growing international opposition to China’s actions in the South China Sea.

“The chorus against threats to peace and stability in the South China Sea is growing louder and stronger each day,” Carlson said. “When the United States sees our partners being bullied in their backyard, we speak up. And we encourage others to speak up as well – and they are doing so.”

Carlson underscored that a “free and open Indo-Pacific” should be free from coercion by other nations, open to trade and investment, and governed by international law. She called on China to stop harassing Philippine vessels operating lawfully in the Philippine exclusive economic zones (EEZs) and to halt its disruptions to states’ sovereign rights to explore, utilize, conserve, and manage natural resources within their territories and EEZs.

“With likeminded partners and all who support the rule of law, we urge the PRC (People’s Republic of China) to cease harassment of Philippine vessels lawfully operating in the Philippine exclusive economic zones; to halt its disruption to states’ sovereign rights to explore, utilize, conserve and manage natural resources in their territories and EEZs; and to end its interference with the freedoms of navigation and overflight of all states lawfully operating in the region,” Carlson stated.

She emphasized that any disputes should be resolved in accordance with international law and assured continued US support for the Philippines and other partners facing these challenges.

Carlson also highlighted the importance of the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA) between the US and the Philippines, which strengthens the Mutual Defense Treaty of the two nations. EDCA allows for closer training and cooperation between Filipino and American forces, modernization efforts, and joint responses to shared threats, including natural disasters, across nine mutually agreed locations in the Philippines.

“These infrastructure investments at EDCA locations also spur economic growth and opportunity in local communities,” Carlson noted. EDCA projects represent an initial investment of about $100 million (approximately P5 billion), funding the repair of runways and the construction of disaster response warehouses and command and control infrastructure.

As tensions continue in the West Philippine Sea, the United States’ call for China’s compliance with international law and cessation of aggressive actions marks a significant step in the international community’s stance on maintaining peace and stability in the region.


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