Aquino to update Japan PM Shinzo Abe on Chinese case | Global News

Aquino to update Japan PM Shinzo Abe on Chinese case

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.   AP FILE PHOTO

Bidding to forge a stronger alliance, President Benigno Aquino III would update Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on the Philippine case questioning China’s claim over the South China Sea when the two meet next week in Japan.

Both leaders are expected to discuss a range of issues, including easing tensions in the seas with an increasingly assertive China.


Mr. Aquino is flying to Japan next Tuesday for a one-day working visit.


Assistant Foreign Secretary Charles Jose said Mr. Aquino and Abe were expected to discuss tensions in disputed waters with China.

Specifically, Jose said the President would brief Abe on the arbitration case filed by the Philippines in a UN tribunal questioning China’s policy on the South China Sea.

“I’m sure the President will be updating the prime minister on the status of our case,” he told reporters at a Malacañang briefing.

“We can see so much developments happening in the South China Sea, East China Sea. So I’m sure they will be sharing views and exchanging views on this issue,” he added.

The Philippines filed on March 30 a memorandum, also called a memorial, in the International Tribunal on the Law of the Sea, asking it to rule on China’s claims over most of the South China Sea.

The tribunal has asked Beijing to respond to the memorandum, but the latter has balked at this.


President Benigno Aquino III AFP FILE PHOTO

Mr. Aquino also apprised fellow Southeast Asian leaders during their summit in Naypyitaw, Burma (Myanmar), in May.

China claims 90 percent of the 1.35-million-square-mile South China Sea, while the Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei and non-Asean member Taiwan claim parts of it.

China and Japan are also disputing a string of Japanese-administered islets in the East China Sea, known as Senkaku in Japan and Diaoyu in China.

Jose, spokesperson of the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA), declined to say whether the meeting between the two leaders was an offshoot of Abe’s call on allies in the region to “contain” China.

Stop repair of airstrip

“Well, this meeting is an opportunity for them to discuss issues and exchange ideas, exchange views and update each other on what’s going on,” he said.

Jose also stood by Foreign Secretary Albert del Rosario’s recommendation to the Air Force to stop the repair and reconstruction of the Rancudo airstrip on Pagasa Island purportedly on the advice of the United States.

“We have always been advocating a rules-based approach to resolving disputes and we have been trying to maintain our moral high ground by adhering to the agreements that we have signed on to,” he said, referring to the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea.

Jose said it was premature to say that the United States would help the Philippines reclaim its territories should it win the case in the United Nations.

“I think we shouldn’t put the cart before the horse because right now we have only submitted our memorial to the arbitration tribunal and the court has just recently issued its procedural order, giving China until Dec. 15 to respond. So until such time that we get a ruling from the arbitral tribunal, then we’ll just leave it at that,” he said.

At a meeting on Thursday between senior ministers from Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) member-states and South Korea, the Philippine government took the opportunity to push for a moratorium on destabilizing activities in the West Philippine Sea.

The DFA said Undersecretary for Policy Evan Garcia briefed the meeting held in Busan, South Korea, about the Philippine proposal to impose the moratorium to uphold the rule of law and the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea.

“[Garcia] underscored the urgency of the matter in light of China’s assertive actions, including large-scale reclamation of disputed features in the West Philippine Sea. He noted that this interim tension-reduction measure is immediately needed to manage rising tensions,” the DFA said in a statement.

Garcia noted the importance of the reduction of tensions while China and the Asean continued discussions on a code of conduct before an arbitral tribunal issues its ruling that will clarify maritime entitlements in accordance with the 1982 UN Convention on the Law of the Sea.


Asean-S. Korea summit

The senior officials’ meeting was in preparation for the Asean-South Korean Commemorative Summit to be held in Busan in December to celebrate 25 years of dialogue relations.

The meeting also reviewed the progress of Asean-South Korean cooperation in the political security, economic and sociocultural fields as well as exchanged views on regional and international issues.

Garcia was also the lead speaker on climate change, disaster and water management in the meeting.

He called on the Asean and South Korea to enhance their cooperation in disaster risk reduction and management by working closely to strengthen the resilience of each country and addressing climate change.

The DFA said both sides agreed that the Asean and South Korea play an important role, “not only in the regional context, but also in the larger, global perspective as long-term partners for peace and prosperity.”

The Asean groups the Philippines, Thailand, Indonesia, Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei, Cambodia, Laos, Burma and Singapore.

The Asean, South Korea, Japan and China hold an annual forum known as the Asean Plus Three which coordinates regional cooperation in various issues.


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TAGS: Benigno Aquino III, China bullying, Shinzo Abe, South China Sea, territorial dispute, West Philippine Sea

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