MANILA, Philippines—The Philippines has extended its gratitude to members of the United States Senate for a draft resolution condemning Chinese incursions in disputed Asia-Pacific waters and calling for restraint and peaceful dialogue in settling territorial conflicts.
Department of Foreign Affairs spokesperson Raul Hernandez on Friday welcomed US Senate Resolution 167, filed June 10 in an effort to ease tensions in the South China Sea and the East China Sea.
The resolution, filed by US Senator Robert and his co-sponsors Senators Benjamin Cardin, Marco Rubio and Bob Corker, particularly cited China’s aggressive assertion of its nine-dash line claim in regional waters and sought to calm the tense air among claimants.
“We understand that the resolution has yet to undergo the necessary congressional process before it is passed by the US Senate, nonetheless, we extend our appreciation on the mere fact that some US senators have deigned it necessary to express their views on a fundamental issue that affects the peace and stability of the Asia-Pacific region,” Hernandez said in a statement issued Friday afternoon.
Hernandez said the Philippines “especially appreciates the reaffirmation of the peaceful resolution of disputes,” earlier expressed by top US officials in supporting the Philippines.
The resolution noted recent tension in Asia-Pacific waters, including Chinese incursions into the Ayungin and Panatag Shoals within the Philippines’ exclusive economic zone in the West Philippine Sea, as the Manila government refers to part of the South China Sea.
It also cited China’s “unilateral steps” in laying claim to the Japanese-controlled Senkaku Islands (Diaoyu Islands to the Chinese) in the East China Sea.
The resolution also made reference to the Philippines’ arbitration bid against China in the United Nations, a process that seeks to clarify maritime boundaries in the West Philippine Sea, stop Chinese incursions into the country’s EEZ and nullify China’s nine-dash line claim to the waters.
It sought the US Senate’s condemnation of “the use of coercion, threats, or force… to assert disputed maritime or territorial claims or alter the status quo” and “strongly urges that all parties… to exercise self-restraint” in undertaking their respective activities within the waters.
The Philippines, China, Taiwan, Vietnam, Malaysia and Brunei have been asserting their respective claims to parts of the South China Sea while Japan and China bicker over the East China Sea islands.
The resolution also expressed support for peaceful and diplomatic means of settling maritime disputes and for the United States’ political and military role in maintaining stability in the waters.