MANILA, Philippines – Accept that we own the entire South China Sea (West Philippine Sea) before we talk.
That was gist of “the Chinese unequivocal message” on the territorial dispute with the Philippines over the West Philippine Sea (WPS) despite several attempts at negotiations, Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) spokesman Assistant Secretary Raul Hernandez told reporters Monday.
“It has, therefore, become impossible to continue bilateral discussion on disputes in the WPS with China on the basis of this rigid position,” Hernandez said.
“This led us to finally resort to arbitration under Annex VII of the United Nations Convention on the Laws of the Seas (UNCLOS),” he said.
The DFA’s statement was in response to another statement by the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs that said “the Philippine’s claim that it had exhausted almost all political and diplomatic avenues for a peaceful settlement of dispute is completely not true.”
Hernandez said that their statement was baseless and he enumerated the many attempts of the Philippines to settle the dispute.
“Since intrusions in the Bajo de Masinloc (Panatag Shoal or Scarborough Shoal) started in April 2012 alone, we have had nearly fifty consultations with China,” he said.
The DFA had officially asked China to bring the issue “to a dispute settlement mechanism to resolve the issue on a long-term basis” through a note verbale dated April 26, 2012.
Hernandez said that China replied that it was a “none ground” issue and told the Philippines to “refrain from any infringement on China’s territorial sovereignty.”
“Secretary Albert F. del Rosario visited Beijing three times with an invitation for the Chinese Foreign Minister to visit Manila for consultations. Up to now, we are awaiting a favorable response to our renewed invitations,” Hernandez said.
“In all of these dialogues, China has consistently maintained its hard line position of ‘indisputable sovereignty’ over the South China Sea, including the West Philippine Sea, based on historical facts,” he said.