China rejects PH bid to bring shoal dispute to international court


Foreign Secretary Albert del Rosario

China firmly rejects the Philippines’ proposal to bring the Scarborough Shoal dispute to the International Tribunal on the Law of the Sea (Itlos), but the Philippines is not giving up.

The Philippine proposal is verbal, but Foreign Secretary Albert del Rosario on Wednesday said the Philippines would send a formal invitation to China.

Del Rosario said Manila “would like to find a way to settle the impasse [with Beijing]” but at the same time uphold the Philippines’ “sovereignty and sovereign rights” over the shoal, located 124 nautical miles (223 kilometers) west of Zambales province.

Del Rosario maintains that Itlos is the right body to ascertain which country, the Philippines or China, has sovereign rights over the shoal.

Located in Hamburg, Germany, Itlos is an independent judicial body established in 1982 by the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea as a mediator in disputes arising from interpretations and applications of the UN convention.

Final decision

Zhang Hua, spokesperson of the Chinese Embassy in Manila,  told the Philippine Daily Inquirer on Tuesday that China’s decision not to bring the conflict to Itlos for arbitration is final.

Zhang insisted that the shoal, which Beijing calls Huangyan Island, “is China’s inherent territory on which we have sufficient legal basis.”

The Philippines, on the other hand, refers to the shoal as Bajo de Masinloc and Panatag Shoal, and insists it belongs to the country.

In a text message, Zhang said Manila should “fully respect China’ sovereignty.”

He said the Philippine government must “commit to the consensus we reached on settling the incident through friendly diplomatic consultations, and not to complicate or aggravate this incident so that peace and stability in that area can be reached.”

Lines remain open

Raul Hernandez, the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA)  spokesperson, told reporters on Tuesday that “hopefully, the impasse would be resolved as quickly as possible with discussions with the Chinese side.”

“We continue to invite them in order to have a durable solution not only to the Scarborough Shoal issue but also to the Spratlys dispute in the West Philippine Sea,” he said.

If the Chinese side insisted on not going to Itlos, he said, “we are prepared to do it alone.”

According to Hernandez, “our lines are open to Chinese representatives. But no meetings have been scheduled yet.”

Last week, the DFA said, talks between the two sides ended in a stalemate.

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  • sh1seadad

    China is able to anything they want to and the Philippines isn’t big or strong enough to do anything about it. I don’t think it was a very good idea kicking out the Americans in the early 90’s. You can thank some members of the Philippine congress for that. Which is better American bases or Chinese bases? The people of the Philippines must decide which is best for them. The Philippines is not strong enough to take on China remember that.

  • valsore

    By not going to court arbitration, China admits its claims cannot stand court scrutiny.  On the other hand, it also signals its intent to take our island by force.  Let’s get ready.

  • J

    Me Zhang Hua, isn’t it that if there is a dispute amongst your people it need to be resolved by your courts? or you just hang them period.

    You must realize that this issue is international in nature and since China is a Permanent Member of the UN Security Council, China should show a good example for other smaller nations to follow. Otherwise there is no need for a UN Assembly. The issue simply need to be resolved in an international court. We have to discuss legally and show proofs who really owns the shoals and the court decides. I think the PH is mature enough to accept whatever the verdict would be and much more of China since you project yourselves to be a great nation. In fact there is nothing for you to fear if you really have proof that the whole of South China Sea is yours. All we want is to resolve this issue once and for all and not you showing your might and bully the small guys. Who knows perhaps in your so called historical proof, you own the Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia and Brunei and we have nothing to talk about.

  • kaagapay

    we are re-asserting our claim. this is not a new claim! we pray our living Lord, that China WILL LISTEN.

  • michael_light

    With the impending crisis in the Middle East, China
    will be forced to look for alternative sources of oil to feed its growing
    economy. Forced by circumstances, China will invade the Spratlys and
    all adjoining islet for oil. It will give us little option, give up our claim
    or turn to the US
    for help. Return the US
    bases in the Philippines
    or exchange them for Chinese bases – our choice. 

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