US, Philippines raise concerns over China's maritime militia massing at disputed reef
Washington DC : The United States and the Philippines have raised concerns over the presence of China's maritime militia vessels near the disputed Whitsun Reef in the South China Sea, the White House said.
This comes after talks were held between US National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan and his Philippine counterpart, Hermogenes Esperon on Thursday.
The White House said in a statement the National Security Advisors discussed their shared concerns regarding the recent massing of People's Armed Forces Maritime Militia vessels at Whitsun Reef.
Sullivan underscored that the United States stands with their Philippine allies in upholding the rules-based international maritime order, and reaffirmed the applicability of the US-Philippines Mutual Defense Treaty in the South China Sea.
Last month, the Philippines announced the deployment of additional navy ships to the South China Sea after over 200 Chinese vessels were spotted in the Whitsun Reef. Later, the Philippines also filed a diplomatic protest over the issue.
On Monday, US Secretary Antony Blinken had come out in support of the Philippines after "China's maritime militia" massed Chinese vessels at a boomerang-shaped Whitsun Reef in the West Philippine sea.
"The United States stands with our ally, the Philippines, in the face of the PRC's maritime militia amassing at WhitsunReef. We will always stand by our allies and stand up for the rules-based international order," Blinken tweeted.
The Whitsun Reef belongs to the Spratly archipelago, the territory of which is claimed by Brunei, China, Malaysia, the Philippines, Taiwan, and Vietnam.
China considers the Spratly archipelago to be its territory, despite the Hague-based Permanent Court of Arbitration ruling, which said there was no legal basis for China's maritime claims. The arbitration proceeding was initiated by the Philippines in January 2013, Sputnik reported. (ANI)