In this April 5, 2019 photo, amphibious assault ship USS Wasp (LHD 1) maneuvers alongside the Philippine Navy offshore patrol vessel BRP Ramon Alcaraz (PS 16) in the West Philippine Sea in support of Exercise Balikatan 2019. (US Navy/Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Daniel Barke)
MANILA, Philippines — The US on Saturday scored China for passing a new law that allows its coast guard to fire on foreign vessels, accusing it of putting “unacceptable pressure” on countries with claims in the South China Sea.
“The United States joins the Philippines, Vietnam, Indonesia, Japan and other countries in expressing concern with China’s recently enacted Coast Guard law, which may escalate ongoing territorial and maritime disputes,” US Department of State spokesperson Ned Price said in an audio press briefing with reporters.
“We stand firm in our respective alliance commitments to Japan and the Philippines.”
In response to China’s controversial new law, the Philippines has filed a diplomatic protest and has said that it will increase its naval visibility in the contested waters to protect Filipino fisherfolk.
“We remind [China] and all…whose forces operate in the South China Sea that responsible maritime forces act with professionalism and restraint in the exercise of their authorities,” Price said.
Despite the concerns raised by its neighbors and the US, China has continued to assert its unfounded claims in the South China Sea, most recently installing structures on the Philippine-claimed Mischief or Panganiban Reef as seen in satellite images released by US-based firm Simularity.
The regional superpower insists that its new law is not a threat of war and does not “specifically target any certain country.” – Bella Perez-Rubio