India backs peaceful resolution of sea row | Global News

India backs peaceful resolution of sea row

MANILA, Philippines–India has assured the Philippines that it will promote the peaceful resolution of the South China Sea territorial and jurisdictional disputes after Manila called anew for the global community’s assistance in helping put a stop to China’s massive reclamation activities.

India has its own territorial issues with China.

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The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) on Monday said Foreign Undersecretary Evan Garcia had made the appeal to the global community at the 17th Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean)-India Senior Officials’ Meeting in New Delhi, India, on Saturday.

The DFA said recent developments in the South China Sea were discussed in the meeting, where Indian Minister of External Affairs Anti Wadha thanked the Philippines for providing India with this information.

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“Noting that an important dimension of the Asean-India strategic partnership is its increasing relevance to the political security of the region, Minister Wadha assured the Philippines that India will encourage the peaceful resolution of the dispute,” the DFA said in a statement.

It said that during the meeting, Garcia also reiterated Manila’s call for the international committee to help press for a stop to massive reclamation activities in the South China Sea.

The DFA was referring to the government’s campaign to stop Chinese reclamation activities in the South China Sea, which included maritime features of the Philippines in the West Philippine Sea.

“Such unbridled reclamation activity worsens an already sensitive geopolitical situation and raise the specter of increasing militarization,” the DFA quoted Garcia as telling his Asean-India colleagues.

The Philippines is still awaiting action from the United Nations arbitral tribunal on its case against China’s nine-dash-line policy which covers almost the entire South China Sea.

A lawmaker also assailed China’s aggressive reclamation of atolls and islets, including Mischief Reef, in a portion of the South China Sea claimed by the Philippines, which it calls the West Philippine Sea.

In a statement, Bayan Muna Rep. Neri Colmenares called on Filipinos and the international community to denounce the reclamation of more than 60 hectares of land in disputed regional waters.

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“All Filipinos should denounce this unjust and dangerous action to implement China’s expansionist policy based on its 9-dash line theory, which is without legal, historical and moral basis,” he said, referring to the economic giant’s controversial claim on virtually the entire South China Sea.

“We should defend our territory and exclusive economic zones and President Aquino should fortify our positions in the area to counter China’s aggressive acts,” said Colmenares, senior deputy minority leader in the House of Representatives.

Earlier, Magdalo party-list Rep. Francisco Ashley Acedillo sounded the alarm on China’s reclamation and construction activities that had transformed reefs and shoals to habitable islands.

“As islands… they are now able to host structures for military and other personnel as well as support naval and aircraft operations therein,” said Acedillo, a former military pilot.

He predicted that the Philippines could lose Ayungin Shoal (Second Thomas Shoal) to China “in a year’s time or two… when China steps up air and navy patrols based out of Mischief Reef.” The Philippines had control of Panganiban Reef (Mischief Reef) until 1995 when China began putting up what it claimed was a shelter for Chinese fishermen, but then ultimately claimed the reef for itself.

Alarmed Philippine authorities moved to guard the neighboring Ayungin Shoal, allowing a disused hospital ship, the BRP Sierra Madre, to run aground on the shoal.

Ayungin is about 22 nautical miles (41 kilometers) from Panganiban Reef.

Colmenares called on the international community to help the Philippines assert its sovereignty against foreign intervention.

“We also call on the Supreme Court to resolve the petition we filed in 2008 against China for violating our territorial sovereignty in order to strengthen our claim to freedom from foreign intervention,” he said.

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TAGS: China, Diplomacy, India, Philippines, sea row, South China Sea, territorial dispute, West Philippine Sea
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