China demands PH to withdraw from ‘illegally seized’ islands
MANILA, Philippines – China responded to the Philippines’ call for a moratorium on all activities in the South China Sea (West Philippine Sea) by demanding the Philippines to withdraw all its facilities and personnel on islands it occupies in the Spratly Islands.
“We demand the Philippines to withdraw all its facilities and personnel on islands illegally seized from China,” Chinese Foreign Minister Hua Chunying said in a press conference on Monday, a transcript of which was posted on the website of the Chinese Foreign Ministry.
“Since the 1970s, the Philippines has illegally and forcefully occupied parts of China’s Nansha Islands (Spratly Islands) including the Zhongye Island (Pag-asa Island), in violation of the United Nations Charter and principles of international law,” she said.
Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario on Monday said that he was thinking of proposing a freeze on all activities in the South China Sea to the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) in order to ease tensions.
China was recently found to be conducting reclamation activities in at least five reefs turning them into artificial islands.
Hua insisted that there are no issues between Asean and China and reiterated that China is willing to work with Asean member countries in implementing the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea (DOC).
“Issues on the sovereignty over islands and reefs of the Nansha Islands are not the ones between China and Asean,” she said.
“There is consensus between China and Asean on fully and effectively implementing the DOC and negotiating a code of conduct in the South China Sea under that framework. We stand ready to work with relevant countries, strictly follow the DOC and jointly safeguard peace and stability of the South China Sea,” Hua said.
She accused the Philippines of taking provocative actions and making irresponsible remarks against China.
“Last December, the Philippines’ Defense Ministry announced that they would invest large sums of money to upgrade the airstrips and naval facilities on the Zhongye Island. In January this year, the Philippines’ military officials again announced their plans to build a world-class airport on the so-called Kalayaan Island,” Hua said.
“The Philippine side, on the one hand, intentionally takes provocative actions while on the other hand makes irresponsible remarks on China’s legitimate actions which are within China’s sovereignty. That is unjustifiable,” she said.
Philippines and China are locked in a maritime dispute over the West Philippines Sea. An arbitration case before the International Tribunal on the Law of the Sea (Itlos) is ongoing despite China’s refusal to participate.
Originally posted: 11:25 am | Tuesday, June 17th, 2014
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