MANILA, Philippines—The Philippines’ largest bookstore chain has withdrawn Chinese-made globes showing Beijing’s claims to most of the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea) from its shelves, the Department of Foreign Affairs said Thursday.
The globes were sold by the National Bookstore up until Wednesday, DFA spokesman Raul Hernandez said in a statement.
“The National Bookstore has withdrawn all the educational globes, which reflect China’s nine-dash line encompassing the South China Sea, from its stores,” Hernandez said.
“It has taken a patriotic position to proactively support the Philippine government in advancing Philippine foreign policy objectives,” he said.
“This is to further demonstrate that it stands behind our efforts for a peaceful and friendly resolution of the issues in accordance with international law and to be a partner of the Philippine government in creating national awareness and in nation building,” he added.
He said the decision to pull out the globes came after a dialogue with the bookstore management, which claimed they were unaware of the “misinformation” contained in the education materials.
“The DFA has been able to validate that educational globes which reflect China’s nine-dash lines encompassing the South China Sea are indeed being retailed locally by establishments that are totally unaware of the maritime disputes between the Philippines and China,” Hernandez told reporters in an earlier press briefing Thursday.
“The management of these establishments are proactively prepared to discuss with the DFA remedies to be able to address the misinformation contained in the educational globes,” he said, noting that the Philippines maintains that China’s nine-dash claims were excessive and were violations of international law.
Hernandez also noted that the DFA was also considering talking to schools because it “is important that educational globes being used in teaching our students do not contain this kind of information.”
China’s “nine-dash line” outlines its claims to virtually all of the South China Sea, even waters close to the shores of its neighbors.
The Philippine government last month took China to an arbitration panel under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea — a 1982 treaty signed by both countries — to demand that it declare China’s claims invalid.
China’s territorial claims overlap those of the Philippines as well as Brunei, Malaysia, Vietnam and Taiwan.
The Philippines and Vietnam have over the past two years complained of China’s increasing assertiveness in enforcing its claims, particularly around areas believed rich in oil and natural gas reserves.
China’s stance led to a standoff last year with the Philippines over rich fishing grounds around Scarborough Shoal, a rocky outcrop much closer to the Philippine coast than to China’s shores. With Agence France-Presse