Statement Regarding Recent Incidents In South China Sea

Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade

The Australian Government expresses its grave concern at, and stands by the Philippines in its response to, the dangerous and illegal actions by China's vessels against Philippine vessels and crew taking part in a routine mission to Second Thomas Shoal, within the Philippines' Exclusive Economic Zone, on 17 June.

China's vessels engaged in dangerous manoeuvres and illegal conduct, including the ramming of Philippine vessels, resulting in injury to crew and damage to Philippine vessels. The Australian Government is deeply concerned by reports of the forcible boarding and towing of Philippine vessels and the seizure of equipment.

This is an escalation in a pattern of deeply concerning and destabilising behaviour by China. This conduct endangers peace and security in the region, threatens lives and livelihoods, and creates risks of miscalculation and escalation.

All states have a responsibility to adhere to international law, particularly the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), which is essential to peace and stability, including in the South China Sea.

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