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Two days ago, the People’s Republic of China (PRC) Coast Guard blocked and used water cannons against Philippine resupply ships en route to Second Thomas Shoal in the South China Sea.

The United States stands with our ally, the Philippines, in the face of this escalation that directly threatens regional peace and stability, escalates regional tensions, infringes upon freedom of navigation in the South China Sea as guaranteed under international law, and undermines the rules-based international order.

On July 12, 2016, an Arbitral Tribunal constituted under the 1982 Law of the Sea Convention, delivered a unanimous and enduring decision firmly rejecting the PRC’s claims to Second Thomas Shoal and to waters determined to be part of the Philippines’ exclusive economic zone.  The PRC and the Philippines, pursuant to their treaty obligations under the Law of the Sea Convention, are legally bound to comply with this decision.  The PRC should not interfere with lawful Philippine activities in the Philippines’ exclusive economic zone.

The United States stands with our Philippine allies in upholding the rules-based international maritime order and reaffirms that an armed attack on Philippine public vessels in the South China Sea would invoke U.S. mutual defense commitments under Article IV of the 1951 U.S. Philippines Mutual Defense Treaty.

The United States strongly believes that PRC actions asserting its expansive and unlawful South China Sea maritime claims undermine peace and security in the region.

U.S. Department of State

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