Both top diplomats expressed their "shared concerns" with the massing of Chinese maritime militia vessels in the South China Sea, including at Whitsun Reef, "and reiterated their calls on the PRC to abide by the 2016 arbitration ruling issued pursuant to the Law of the Sea Convention,” the Department of State said in a statement on late Thursday.
The US secretary of state reaffirmed the applicability of the 1951 US-Philippine Mutual Defense Treaty to the situation in the South China Sea.
“Secretary Blinken and Secretary Locsin welcomed enhanced bilateral and multilateral cooperation on the South China Sea. Secretary Blinken also discussed the Administration’s efforts to combat rising hate and violence against Asian-Americans,” the statement added.
Over the past several years, China has increased its territorial and maritime claims in the South China Sea region, overlapping with the interests of several nations. The United States has repeatedly voiced concern over the Chinese activities in the region and regularly sends its military vessels there.