An official from the United States government said it stood with the Philippines regarding its protest against China’s ‘maritime militia’ vessels staying near Whitsun Reef in the South China Sea
“The U.S. stands with our ally, the Philippines, regarding concerns about the gathering of PRC maritime militia vessels near Whitsun Reef. We call on Beijing to stop using its maritime militia to intimidate and provoke others, which undermines peace and security,” State Department spokesman Ned Price said in a statement.
On Tuesday, the Philippine government demanded the immediate withdrawal of dozens of Chinese vessels illegally moored within the West Philippine Sea, noting their lingering presence was a blatant infringement of the Philippines’ sovereignty, sovereign rights, and jurisdiction.
“The Philippines demands that China promptly withdraw its fishing vessels and maritime assets in the vicinity and adjacent waters of relevant features in the Kalayaan Group of Islands in the West Philippine Sea, and to direct its fishing vessels to desist from environmentally destructive activities,” the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said.
US stands by PH in protests against Chinese militia vessels at South China Sea
Meanwhile, the Chinese Embassy in Manila criticized the support of the US in the Philippines’ protest against Chinese incursion in the West Philippine Sea, saying it could affect the “peace and stability” in the disputed territory.
“The United States is not a party to the South China Sea issue. Fanning flames and provoking confrontation in the region will only serve the selfish interests of individual country and undermine regional peace and stability,” the Chinese Embassy in Manila wrote in a tweet.
Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) chief Lieutenant General Cirilito Sobejana said Monday that Chinese militia vessels on the Julian Felipe Reef covered by the West Philippine Sea are still not leaving.
“Nandun pa at binibilang naming mabuti,” said Sobejana.
On March 7, the National Task Force for the West Philippine Sea spotted at Julian Felipe Reef large fishing boats commanded by the Chinese maritime militia lined up.
According to Sobejana, several AFP aircraft are currently on Julian Felipe Reef.