A China Coast Guard troop can be seen wielding an axe in this photo, threatening Filipino forces from unloading supplies to the BRP Sierra Madre at Ayungin Shoal on June 17.

The United States Department of Defense has criticized China for its recent hostile behavior in Ayungin Shoal, where it rammed Philippine vessels, injuring a member of the Naval Special Operations Group (NAVSOG) conducting a resupply mission to BRP Sierra Madre.

Pentagon press secretary Maj. Gen. Patrick Ryder condemned China’s actions, describing them as “obviously very concerning reports” that could escalate to “more violence.”

“This kind of behavior is provocative, reckless, and unnecessary,” Ryder stated during a press briefing at the Pentagon in the United States on Tuesday evening (Wednesday morning in the Philippines).

“We condemn the escalatory and irresponsible actions by the People’s Republic of China (PRC) to prevent the Philippines from executing a lawful maritime operation in the South China Sea,” he added.

Ryder also assured that the United States would continue to support the Philippines and uphold the Mutual Defense Treaty.

“We are going to continue to stand with our Philippine allies,” he affirmed. “We condemn the escalatory and irresponsible actions by the PRC to prevent the Philippines from executing a lawful maritime operation in the South China Sea.”

Several other US government officials, including Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, Department of State spokesperson Matthew Miller, and Ambassador to the Philippines MaryKay Carlson, have also expressed similar concerns.