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Manila winning battle vs China in international community — lawmaker

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AN AERIAL VIEW of the BRP Sierra Madre at the contested Second Thomas Shoal on March 9, 2023. — REUTERS

A GROUP of Seven (G7) statement opposing China’s dangerous maneuvers in the South China Sea shows that the Philippines is winning the battle in the international community in its sea dispute with Beijing, according to a congressman.

Beijing has become a “pariah” in the international community due to its attempt to change the status quo in the waterway, Cagayan de Oro Rep. Rufus B. Rodriguez said in a statement at the weekend.

“The G7 declaration of support, together with similar pronouncements from allies of the Philippines in this part of the world… is proof that we are winning the battle against China in the international community,” he added.

The G7 on Saturday called out China for its increasing use of dangerous maneuvers and water cannons against Philippine vessels. It opposed Chinese “intimidation activities” in the South China Sea.

In a communiqué after the G7 Summit in Apulia, Italy, the leaders of the powerful economic bloc raised concerns about the situation in the East and South China Seas, reiterating their “strong opposition to any unilateral attempt to change the status quo by force or coercion.”

“We continue opposing China’s dangerous use of coast guard and maritime militia in the South China Sea and its repeated obstruction of countries’ high seas freedom of navigation,” they said in the statement.

China claims more than 80% of the South China Sea based on a 1940s nine-dash line map, including areas within the Philippines exclusive economic zone.

The Permanent Court of Arbitration in 2016 voided China’s sweeping claims for being illegal.

Beijing has deployed an armada of coast guard and militia vessels in the South China Sea to assert its claims.

“Beijing’s aggression is taking place inside our own 200-[nautical] mile exclusive economic zone,” Mr. Rodriguez said.

China’s coast guard has repeatedly used high-pressure water cannons to dissuade Philippine vessels from entering highly contested areas within the country’s exclusive economic zone including Scarborough Sho and Second Thomas Shoal. — Kenneth Christiane L. Basilio

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