U.S. supports Philippines in South China Sea, State Department says

A Philippine fisherman watches a China Coast Guard vessel patrolling the disputed Scarborough Shoal, April 5, 2017. Picture taken April 5, 2017. (Reuters/Erik De Castro/File Photo)

 The United States supports the Philippines in calling on China “to end its provocative actions and respect international law in the South China Sea,” the State Department said on Friday.

The Philippines last week lodged new diplomatic protests against Chinese maritime activities within Manila’s 200-mile (321 km) exclusive economic zone.

It accused China of “illegal fishing” while Chinese coast guard vessels shadowed Philippine boats on a resupply mission, adding to more than 300 complaints filed against Beijing’s activities in the South China Sea.

The United States shares the Philippines’ concerns, the State Department said.

“These actions are part of a broader trend of PRC (People’s Republic of China) provocations against South China Sea claimants and other states lawfully operating in the region,” State Department spokesperson Ned Price said in a statement.

—Reporting by Chris Gallagher; Editing by Doina Chiacu

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