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Media release

Recent incidents in the South China Sea

Countries and regions

The Australian Government is very concerned by incidents last week where China’s coast guard blocked and used water cannons against Philippine vessels seeking to resupply Second Thomas Shoal in the South China Sea.

The Australian Government has consistently expressed concern about the dangerous or coercive use of coast guard vessels in the South China Sea. Such actions are destabilising.

The 2016 South China Sea Arbitral Award found that Second Thomas Shoal was within the Philippines exclusive economic zone and continental shelf.

The Tribunal found that there ‘exists no legal basis for any entitlement by China to maritime zones in the area of Second Thomas Shoal’.

Pursuant to Article 296 and Article 11 of Annex VII of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, the Tribunal’s decision is final and binding on both parties, China and the Philippines.

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