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Tuesday, July 23, 2024

G7 leaders voice deep concern over West Philippine Sea row, reaffirm support for Manila

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The Group of Seven (G7) leaders have expressed deep concern and rejected China’s actions in disputed international waters, including Beijing’s “increasing use of dangerous maneuvers and water cannons” against Manila’s vessels.

In the G7 Apulia Leaders’ Communiqué posted on the White House’s official website, the influential world leaders stressed that they “remain seriously concerned about the situation in the East and South China Seas and reiterate our strong opposition to any unilateral attempt to change the status quo by force or coercion.”

“We continue opposing China’s dangerous use of coast guard and maritime militia in the South China Sea and its repeated obstruction of countries’ high seas freedom of navigation,” the G7 statement stated.

“We express serious concern about the increasing use of dangerous maneuvers and water cannons against Philippine vessels,” it said, referring to several water cannon attacks against Philippine sea vessels bringing supplies to Ayungin (Second Thomas) Shoal.

The G7 is composed of leaders of Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom, and the United States. They gathered at Borgo Egnazia in Fasano in Apulia, Italy for the 50th G7 summit from June 13 to 15.

The G7 leaders also reiterated that China’s “expansive maritime claims in the South China Sea” has “no legal basis” and reaffirmed its opposition to “China’s militarization, and coercive and intimidation activities” in the region.

“We re-emphasize the universal and unified character of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) and reaffirm UNCLOS’s important role in setting out the legal framework that governs all activities in the oceans and the seas,” the statement read.

The G7 leaders also reaffirmed its support to the 2016 Arbitral Tribunal and called it a “significant milestone” that is “legally binding upon the parties to those proceedings, and a useful basis for peacefully resolving disputes between the parties.”

China’s expansive claims in the resource-rich region has raised tensions between the Philippines and its allies.

While the Philippines won the 2016 arbitration, China continues to defy the ruling rendered by the United Nations-backed Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) despite calls from the international community. 

The PCA ruling invalidated the massive claims of China over the South China Sea, and upheld the Philippines’ exclusive economic zone in the West Philippine Sea.

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