The Philippine government said Tuesday support has grown in its ongoing dispute over use and control of the South China Sea.
A statement from Malacanang Palace, the workplace of President Benigno Aquino, said support for the Philippines has grown beyond the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, which is attempting to create a code of conduct for use of the contested waterway.
Monday the United States criticized China for attempting a two-hour blockade of a Philippine vessel rotating troops in the sea. U.S. State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf called it “a provocative and destabilizing action.”
In this latest incident, China turned away a supply ship on its way to Philippine troops stationed at Ayungin (Second Thomas) Shoal on Mar. 9.
China claims a large territory of the South China Sea, overlapping the claims of several of its neighbors. Harf said the Philippines had permission to resupply troops at the naval station it had operated there since before the 2002 declaration of conduct in the South China Sea.
Because of China’s allegedly provocative acts at sea, the Philippines have received numerous statements of support, the Malacanang statement said. Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. mentioned “the European Union and the European community” in addition to Washington.
Aquino and U.S. President Barack Obama will have the South China Sea on its list of security issues to be discussed when they meet in Manila later this month.
“Defense and security will definitely be a topic in the talks,” Coloma said.
Chinese state media accused the Philippines Tuesday of violating international law by seeking help from the United Nations. Over the weekend, Manila asked for a tribunal to be convened to settle China’s maritime claims, presenting over 4,000 pages of evidence.