Japan, Philippines, US condemn China over 'dangerous' South China Sea moves | political news

Leaders of Japan, the Philippines and the United States meet in Washington to emphasize the importance of upholding the law of the sea.

The leaders of Japan, the Philippines and the United States have expressed „grave concern” over China's actions in the disputed South China Sea.

Beijing has stepped up its operations in the strategic waterway in recent years, and tensions have risen, particularly with the Philippines, one of several Southeast Asian countries that claim areas of the sea around their coasts.

Last month, Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos said Manila would take countermeasures against China after the second Thomas Shoal collision left Filipino soldiers injured and ships damaged.

“We express our grave concerns about the People's Republic of China [PRC] dangerous and aggressive behavior in the South China Sea,” the three leaders said in a joint statement at the end of the first summit between the three countries, which was held in Washington, DC.

Beijing claims almost the entire South China Sea under its nine-dash line, which was rejected by the International Court of Justice in 2016.

The Philippines, Brunei, Malaysia and Vietnam also claim parts of the sea.

The statement said “the importance of respecting the sovereign rights of states within their exclusive economic zones [EEZ] Consistent with international law, as reflected in the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea [UNCLOS]”.

It also reiterated China's opposition to the three states' „dangerous and coercive use of coast guard and maritime armed vessels in the South China Sea”.

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The second Thomas Shoal, known in the Philippines as Ayungin, has been the site of several skirmishes between Beijing and Manila in recent months, with China's coast guard using water cannons against ships attempting to resupply a group of Filipino sailors living in the Sierra Madre that were deliberately grounded.

According to UNCLOS, the western Philippine island is placed within the Philippines' EEZ about 200 kilometers (124 mi) from the island of Palawan.

It is about 1,000 kilometers (621 miles) from China's southern Hainan Island.

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