By Joyce Ann L. Rocamora

G7 LEADERS. Group of Seven (G7) leaders, (from left) European Council President Charles Michel, Germany’s Chancellor Olaf Scholz, Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, French President Emmanuel Macron, Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni, US President Joe Biden, Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, pose for a photo on the first day of the G7 summit in Italy on June 13, 2024. On Saturday (June 15, 2024), the leaders called out China for its “increasing use” of dangerous maneuvers and water cannons against Filipino vessels, reiterating the group’s opposition to Chinese “intimidation activities” in the South China Sea. (Photo courtesy of G7)

MANILA – The Group of Seven (G7) on Saturday called out China for its “increasing use” of dangerous maneuvers and water cannons against Filipino vessels, reiterating its opposition to Chinese “intimidation activities” in the South China Sea.

In a communiqué following the G7 Summit in Apulia, Italy, the leaders of the powerful economic grouping 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.

“We express serious concern about the increasing use of dangerous maneuvers and water cannons against Philippine vessels.”

The G7 leaders then reaffirmed that they do not recognize China’s maritime claims beyond the zones specified by the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) by citing the 2016 Arbitral Ruling on the South China Sea.

“In this regard, we reaffirm that there is no legal basis for China’s expansive maritime claims in the South China Sea, and we oppose China’s militarization, and coercive and intimidation activities in the South China Sea,” they added.

“We re-emphasize the universal and unified character of the UNCLOS and reaffirm UNCLOS’s important role in setting out the legal framework that governs all activities in the oceans and the seas.”

They noted that the 2016 Arbitral Award is “legally binding upon the parties to those proceedings,” and could serve as a “useful basis for peacefully resolving” maritime disputes.

The G7 represents the world’s leading industrialized democracies – Canada, France, the United States, Germany, Italy, Japan, and the United Kingdom.

China lays claim to a huge swath of the South China Sea, including areas within the Philippines’ exclusive economic zone.

In August 2023, its Chinese Coast Guard first used its water cannon to disrupt the passage of Filipino vessels resupplying the detachment manning the BRP Sierra Madre in Ayungin Shoal.

Despite the Chinese presence near Ayungin, the Philippine government has recently concluded a successful resupply mission to the grounded ship.

Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) chief Gen. Romeo Branwer Jr. said late Friday afternoon that the latest resupply effort was “very successful” but did not provide the date and other specific details of the mission.

“It’s enough to say we will continue bringing supplies to our troops, we will continue rotating our troops in all the features that we are occupying in the West Philippine Sea and we will continue to protect our territory and our sovereign rights,” Brawner said.

He said there were no Chinese attempts to seize the supplies like what happened in the May 19 airdrop mission, where Chinese Coast Guard personnel managed to snatch one airdrop pack, only to throw its contents in the water. (with a report from Priam F. Nepomuceno/PNA)