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Wednesday, June 19, 2024

US to China: Don’t overreact to WPS quad drills and just accept 2016 ruling

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China need not “overreact” to the quadrilateral maritime exercise among the Philippines, the United States, Japan and Australia in the West Philippine Sea, the White House said Thursday (Manila time).

In a press conference, White House National Security Communications Advisor John Kirby said the quadrilateral maritime cooperation in the Philippines’ exclusive economic zone is “about freedom of navigation [and] adherence to international law”.

“I can’t speak for the PRC (People’s Republic of China) reaction, one way or another, except to say there is no reason to overreact to this,” Kirby said.

“It’s about proving the simple point that we and our allies will fly, sail and operate wherever international law permits us to do and it does in the South China Sea, and we did,” he added.

The Philippines on April 7 held a maritime cooperative activity (MCA) with the US, Japan, and Australia in WPS, amid growing tensions in the South China Sea.

The MCA included anti-submarine warfare training, tactical, link and photo exercises, demonstrating the four countries’ collective commitment to strengthen regional and international cooperation in support of a free and open Indo-Pacific.

Kirby said the US government has been watching over the tensions in the WPS “with great concern” and is urging China to adhere to the Hague-based Permanent Court of Arbitration’s 2016 ruling which upheld the Philippines’ sovereign rights and jurisdiction in the WPS.

He said US President Joe Biden, during his recent telephone call with Chinese President Xi Jinping, expressed Washington’s concerns over Beijing’s incursions in the disputed waters.

“We again urge the PRC to abide by the 2016 ruling, and to recognize as we do that the second time a show of force within the Philippine economic exclusion area and we will continue to make that point when the President spoke to President Xi, he very clearly made our concerns known about Chinese activities in the South China Sea,” Kirby said.

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