US Coast Guard calls for 'international push-back' vs. China's actions in South China Sea

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US Coast Guard Commandant Adm. Karl Schultz (FILE PHOTO)

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, July 23) — The United States Coast Guard calls for an international pushback against China's actions in the hotly-contested South China Sea, amid the strong presence of Beijing's forces in the region.

US Coast Guard Commandant Adm. Karl Schultz in a July 23 teleconference said the US Coast Guard and US Navy's call is for US-allied nations, regional partners, and neighbors to rebuke Beijing for behavior that is inconsistent with "rule-based order" in the global waterway.

"I think there needs to be an international push-back to say you know, we reject the types of behaviors, the antagonistic, aggressive behaviors that are not consistent with the rule-based order," he said.

Beijing has reinforced its claim to the sea as its sovereign territory through the deployment of vessels and the fortification of artificial islands. Admiral Schultz said the China Coast Guard is "grossly manifested" with the higher volume of ships, adding to the number of vessels from the People's Liberation Army Navy and China's Central Government.

China claims virtually the entire South China Sea including the Spratly Islands, where other claimants are the Philippines, Vietnam, Taiwan, Malaysia and Brunei.

The US, along with Canada, France, and other nations, have deployed warships to emphasize their military presence in the area -- actions which China has reacted strongly against.

Admiral Schultz said their Coast Guard is currently working with their Vietnamese counterparts, whom they hosted recently, to enhance the freedom of navigation and overflight there.

"In terms of other claimants in the region, we are collaborating, working very diligently with the Vietnamese. The Vietnamese filled out their Coast Guard multi-fold," he said.

Schultz explained their presence in the disputed waters aims to serve as model "maritime governance."

"I think when you think about the United States Coast Guard, our iconic racing stripe that defines our white ships, you see that branding replicated all over the world, including the Chinese Coast Guard. What we think we bring is appropriate behavior," he said.

National Security Adviser Hermogenes Esperon said the Philippines is also strengthening its position in the West Philippine Sea -- the portion of the South China Sea the Philippines claims to be part of its Exclusive Economic Zone. But Esperon said there is a need to be realistic about the number of troops and ships to be deployed there.

"Do you really have total control over the 200-mile EEZ when you only have less than 50 Coast Guard ships? Do you have total control over the area when your Navy does not have so much?" Esperon said.

Despite a 2016 arbitral ruling invalidating China's nine-dash line claim in the South China, the Philippines has not yet asserted the international tribunal's decision. Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte said he had allowed China to fish in Philippine waters due to the unresolved row, but vowed he will stop Beijing "in due time."