Press Releases South China Sea: Statement by the Spokesperson on recent developments

South China Sea: Statement by the Spokesperson on recent developments

The European Union is deeply concerned by the latest dangerous actions taken by Chinese Coast Guard and Maritime Militia vessels near the Second Thomas Shoal, in the South China Sea, on Monday 17 June. These actions caused damage to Philippine vessels and injury to official personnel.

The EU insists that the UN Charter, the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) and the Arbitration Award of 2016, as well as other relevant international rules and regulations relating to the safety of life at sea, should be upheld and respected at all times. This includes, in particular, the prohibition on the use of force or coercion, and the freedom of navigation.

Dangerous collisions are occurring with increasing regularity in the South China Sea, adding to a steady escalation of tensions, which must be defused rather than prolonged. The EU therefore reiterates its longstanding call for restraint and full respect of the relevant international rules, to ensure the peaceful resolution of differences and reduction of tensions in the region.

China’s new ‘Coast Guard Regulation’ which entered into force on 15 June has added to tensions, rather than reducing them. This new Regulation mandates the detention of foreign persons and vessels throughout the entire area claimed by China, further negating the findings of the 2016 arbitral tribunal, and undermining core principles of UNCLOS.

The EU believes that such unilateral measures make it more difficult to achieve a durable solution to disputes in the South China Sea and increase the risk of dangerous confrontation.

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