Federal Foreign Office statement on incidents in the South China Sea

20.06.2024 - Press release

A Federal Foreign Office Spokesperson issued the following statement today (20 June) on the latest incidents between Chinese and Philippine units in the South China Sea:

The German Government is watching China’s conduct in the South China Sea with deep concern. The reports, images and videos now available on the latest incident early this week are disturbing. Philippine boats were blocked, rammed and boarded by force by Chinese vessels during a routine supply mission. Several Philippine crew members were injured. We wish all of them a speedy recovery.

The incident took place in the waters around the Second Thomas Shoal, which are part of the Philippine exclusive economic zone according to the binding award of 2016 in line with the Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS).

Dangerous and irresponsible manoeuvres and actions such as the incident on Monday run contrary to UNCLOS and increase the risk of further escalation. Together with its international partners, Germany will continue to advocate the comprehensive implementation of UNCLOS, freedom of navigation, the peaceful settlement of disputes and the preservation of peace and stability.

Background information:

China claims for itself large stretches of the South China Sea, as well as island and land formations within it. It also claims “archipelago rights” over remote island groups, as well as supposedly “historical” maritime areas. These claims have no basis under international law. For years now, China has been stepping up its efforts to create artificial islands and increase its military presence.

Chinese ships are entering the waters of other states bordering the South China Sea ever more frequently. For months, there has been a growing number of dangerous manoeuvres to force vessels away, while lasers and water cannons have been used against Philippine boats and, more recently, there have been several collisions. The boarding of Philippine boats on Monday, the wilful damage done to the boats and equipment using dangerous instruments as well as the illegal seizure of objects, which we see in the recently published videos, represent a new level of escalation.


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