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DEFENDING SCARBOROUGH

Aussies affirm stand vs China

/ 04:53 AM April 27, 2016

Scarborough Shoal

Members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) and Australia agreed to step up cooperation in maintaining peace and security in the disputed South China Sea just as China announced plans to build an outpost in Scarborough shoal, 230 kilometers off Zambales province.

Foreign assistant secretary Hellen de la Vega, who heads the Asean affairs, welcomed Australia’s “desire to deepen engagement with the Asean and regional partners,” describing it as a “positive” development “in maintaining rules based on regional order.”

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She said the 28th Asean-Australia Forum held recently in Canberra focused on the importance of peace, security, stability and freedom of navigation and overflight in the South China Sea.

De la Vega said the Asean and Australia also “agreed that disputes should be resolved peacefully, including full respect for legal and diplomatic processes, and without resorting to the threat or use of force, in accordance with universally recognized principles of international law, including the 1983 Unclos (United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea).”

Earlier, Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio said China would suffer loss of reputation if it chose to ignore the world’s call to stop its military buildup in the South China Sea.

Carpio said that, by next month, the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague would issue a decision on the Philippines’ case to nullify China’s nine-dash line.

“China will have no choice but to adhere to the ruling of the arbitration court because of world pressure,” said Carpio in a forum hosted by Pimentel Institute of Leadership and Governance at Club Filipino in Greenhills.

“We will use the ruling to rally the world (to make China) comply with the arbitration court decision,” said Carpio.

The lead Philippine lawyer to the arbitration case said the Philippines should also prepare for “an intergenerational struggle” to compel China to adhere to the court ruling.

Later this year, China reportedly would start construction on the contested shoal as it sought to project its power across the South China Sea.

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Scarborough shoal lies within the Philippines’ exclusive economic zone.

In 2012, a tense two-month standoff took place between the Philippine Navy and Chinese vessels in Scarborough.

After the Philippine ships withdrew, the Chinese Navy stationed patrol vessels in the area, effectively taking control of the shoal, and drove away Filipino fishermen. With reports from the wires

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