Dec 11, 2023 - World

U.S. accuses Beijing of undermining regional security in South China Sea

This photo taken on December 10, 2023 shows a Chinese coast guard ship shadowing a Philippine vessel (L) loaded with provisions for Filipino fishermen and troops in disputed waters of the South China Sea.

A Chinese coast guard ship shadowing a Philippine vessel (left) loaded with provisions for Filipino fishing crews and troops in disputed waters of the South China Sea on Sunday. Photo: Ted Aljibe/AFP via Getty Images

U.S. officials demanded the Chinese coast guard on Sunday "desist from its dangerous and destabilizing conduct" in the South China Sea following clashes with Philippine vessels.

Driving the news: State Department spokesperson Matthew Miller in a statement condemned what he said were "reckless maneuvers" on Saturday and Sunday against the Filipino crews on supply missions to the Second Thomas Shoal, where Philippine service members are stationed.

  • This included the use of water cannons and the "forcing" of a collision, "causing damage to Philippine vessels undertaking official supply missions to those locations, and jeopardizing the safety" of the Filipino crew, he said.
  • "Obstructing supply lines to this longstanding outpost and interfering with lawful Philippines maritime operations undermines regional stability."

Why it matters: The comments are likely to anger Chinese officials, who claim territorial sovereignty over the region despite an international court ruling that it has no basis in law.

  • President Biden and Chinese leader Xi Jingping raised hopes that U.S.-China relations were improving after years of tension when they announced at last month's APEC summit in San Francisco the resumption of military-to-military communications between the two countries.

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