Philippines calls on Beijing to respect tribunal ruling on South China Sea

July 14, 2016 9:00 am

Philippine Foreign Affairs
Secretary Perfecto Yasay delivers a statement during a press conference
following a ruling by a UN-backed tribunal on the South Sea, in
Manila, July 12, 2016. (Photo by AFP)

The Philippines has called on
China to respect the recent ruling by an international tribunal that
dismissed ’s territorial claims in disputed areas in the South
China Sea.

In a statement on Thursday, the Philippines’
Foreign Affairs Department said Foreign Affairs Secretary Perfecto Yasay
will urge “the need for parties to respect the recent decision” by the
Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague at an upcoming summit.
The court had earlier declared that China’s claims to the resource-rich and strategically vital South China Sea were baseless.
“There
was no legal basis for China to claim historic rights to resources
within the sea areas falling within the ‘nine-dash line,’” the court
said in reference to a 1947 demarcation line.
China had said
before the ruling was issued that it would not recognize it. Beijing
reiterated that position after the announcement of the ruling.
Yasay,
the Philippine foreign affairs secretary, will be attending a two-day
-Europe summit known as ASEM, starting on Friday. In its Thursday
statement, the Philippines’ Foreign Affairs Department said Yasay will
officially raise the issue at the conference.
“Secretary Yasay
will discuss within the context of ASEM’s agenda the Philippines’
peaceful and rules-based approach on the South China Sea and the need
for parties to respect the recent decision,” the statement read.

This
photo, taken on May 5, 2016, shows Chinese military vessels taking part
in a drill in the Paracel Islands in the South China Sea. (By AFP)

Following the ruling, which was announced on Tuesday, Manila had urged restraint and sobriety.
China
has warned of the prospect of intensified conflict and even military
confrontation over the waters, saying, the maritime dispute should not
be part of the ASEM agenda. Chinese Assistant Foreign Minister Kong
Xuanyou has said the meeting was “not an appropriate venue” to discuss
the issue.
The ASEM summit, which is to be held in Mongolia,
brings together nations from Asia and Europe, including the other
claimants to the sea Vietnam and Malaysia.
China claims most of the energy-rich waters, through which about $5 trillion in ship-borne trade passes every year.
Brunei,
Malaysia, the Philippines, Taiwan and Vietnam also have overlapping
claims. In their dispute, they are propped up by the US.
Beijing accuses Washington of meddling in regional issues and deliberately stirring up tensions in the South China Sea.
The
US, in turn, accuses China of carrying out what it calls a land
reclamation program in the South China Sea by building artificial
islands in the disputed areas.

The Philippines really urged Beijing to respect an international
tribunal’s ruling that rejected Chinese claims to most of the South
China Sea, while a former United States naval chief has said the US
should be willing to use military force to oppose Chinese aggression in
the region.
A statement from the Philippines’ Foreign Affairs
Department said Foreign Secretary Perfecto Yasay would also discuss the
ruling with China at the two-day Asia-Europe summit, known as Asem,
starting today in Mongolia. Chinese Premier Li Keqiang will be at the
summit.
Meanwhile, Dennis Blair, a former commander of US forces
in the Pacific, told a congressional hearing that the US should not pick
a fight with China at the disputed Scarborough Shoal off the coast of
the Philippines, but set a limit on its military coercion.
“I
think we need to have some specific lines and then encourage China to
compromise on some of its objectives,” he told a Senate hearing.

The Philippines is a US ally, but their treaty is
ambiguous about whether the US would come to its defence in disputed
territory.
A 2012 standoff at Scarborough Shoal between Chinese
and the Philippine vessels prompted Manila to launch the arbitration
case by the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague.
The
statement from the Philippines’ Foreign Affairs Department said:
“Secretary Yasay will discuss within the context of Asem’s agenda the
Philippines’ peaceful and rules-based approach on the South China Sea
and the need for parties to respect the recent decision.”
The
statement was the strongest response from the Philippines to Tuesday’s
verdict which declared that China’s claims to the resource-rich and
strategically vital South China Sea had no legal basis.
China vowed to ignore the ruling, saying the
United Nations-backed tribunal had no jurisdiction over the case and
accused it of bias.
China on Wednesday also raised the prospect
of confrontation in the sea, and threatened to introduce an air defence
zone over the sea that would give its military authority over foreign
aircraft.
China said on Monday that the maritime dispute should
not be included on the Asem agenda, with Assistant Foreign Minister Kong
Xuanyou insisting the meeting was “not an appropriate venue” to discuss
the issue.
The Asem summit brings together nations from Asia and Europe, including other sea claimants Vietnam and Malaysia.
In
his first comments immediately after the ruling, Yasay said the
Philippines welcomed the decision but he did not urge China to respect
or abide by it.
Yasay will be at Asem representing President
Rodrigo Duterte, who has signalled he wants to avoid a major diplomatic
falling-out with China over the issue.
China claims nearly all of
the South China Sea, even waters approaching the coasts of the
Philippines and other Southeast Asian nations.
China justifies
its claims by saying it was the first to have discovered, named and
exploited the sea, and outlines its claims for most of the waterway
using a vague map made up of nine dashes that emerged in the 1940s.
The tribunal ruled China’s claimed historical rights and nine-dash map had no legal basis.

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