Jun 19, 2024

Canadian Ambassador David Hartman with Philippine Defense Secretary Gilberto Teodoro Jr.
Canadian Ambassador David Hartman with Philippine Defense Secretary Gilberto Teodoro Jr.

August 16, 2023 – Canada condemned on August 6 the “dangerous and provocative actions” by China against the Philippines in the South China Sea. 

Canada’s diplomatic outpost in the Philippines issued the following statement: “Canada unreservedly condemns the dangerous and provocative actions taken by the Chinese Coast Guard against Philippine vessels on August 5th, in the vicinity of Ayungin Shoal inside the Exclusive Economic Zone of the Philippines.” 

“Unsafe maneuvers and use of water cannons to disrupt the lawful operations of Philippine vessels is unacceptable, and inconsistent with the obligations of the People’s Republic of China (PRC) under international law. 

“Continuing acts of intimidation and coercion by the PRC against its neighbours undermine safety, security and stability across the region, and raise the risks of grave miscalculation. 

“Canada reiterates its support for international law, including the 2016 arbitral decision on the South China Sea, which is final and binding, and calls on the PRC to comply with its obligations under international law,” the embassy stated. 

The Canadian embassy was referring to the ruling released on July 12, 2016 by the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague.

The arbitral court was constituted under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS).

The case before the court was initiated by the Philippines in 2013 in connection to China’s claims and activities in the South China Sea.

A report by the U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission, a creation of the U.S. Congress, explained that the 479-ruling was “overwhelmingly favorable to the Philippines’ position, ruling several elements of China’s claims in the South China Sea unlawful”.

One key takeaway by the report stated that the court ruled that China “violated the Philippines’ sovereign rights by interfering with Philippine oil exploration activities, prohibiting Philippine fishing vessels from operating, failing to prevent Chinese fishing vessels from operating, and conducting land reclamation in areas where the Philippines enjoys sovereign rights to explore for and exploit natural resources”.

In its statement, the Canadian embassy noted: “Only by ensuring full respect for international law can we collectively set conditions for effective and collaborative management of maritime resources, maintenance of maritime safety and security, preservation of marine biodiversity, and respect for maritime boundaries, while ensuring the rights of all states under international law are protected.”

The Philippine vessels were on the way to resupply the sunken BRP Sierra Madre at Ayungin Shoal which is located within the Philippines’ exclusive economic zone. 

Also known as Second Thomas Shoal, it is part of the Spratly Islands in the South China Sea. 

The Spratly Islands are at the centre of a territorial dispute between China, Philippines, Taiwan, Malaysia, Vietnam, and Brunei.

The August 5 incident prevented one of the Philippine boats from unloading supplies at BRP Sierra Madre, a World War II-era ship that was intentionally grounded by the Philippine Navy at Ayungin Shoal in 1999. 

The sunken ship serves as the country’s outpost in the disputed Spratly Islands.

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