US, Japan, Australia stand by PH following Ayungin incident

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FILE PHOTO

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, November 20)— At least three powerhouse nations have reaffirmed support for the Philippines and its 2016 arbitral victory following the Ayungin Shoal incident.

In a statement on Friday, the United States government said it continues to stand with its "ally" amid tensions in the disputed South China Sea.

"The United States strongly believes that PRC (People's Republic of China) actions asserting its expansive and unlawful South China Sea maritime claims undermine peace and security in the region," US State Department spokesperson Ned Price said.

He warned "an armed attack on Philippine public vessels in the South China Sea would invoke US mutual defense commitments under Article IV of the 1951 US-Philippines Mutual Defense Treaty."

Japan also "strongly opposed" the attempts to disrupt the status quo in the region's waters.

"Compliance with the 2016 arbitral award and the principle of peaceful settlement of disputes based on international law, UNCLOS, are vital for peace and prosperity for the region," the Japanese embassy in Manila said.

Australia likewise expressed concern over the recent incidents in the contested waters, and stressed it will continue to work with the Philippines with regards to maritime issues.

Earlier this week, Philippine officials reported that three Chinese Coast Guard vessels blocked and fired water cannon on two Philippine boats transporting supplies to military personnel in Ayungin Shoal.

China's Foreign Ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian later said in response that the Philippine boats were trespassing into Chinese waters without consent and that their coast guard vessels only performed their duties.