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PH seeks India’s support in China row

The Philippines has called on India to weigh in on the South China Sea issue and back its pursuit of international arbitration in settling its maritime disputes with China.

The Philippines participated for the first time in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations-India Eminent Persons Lecture Series in New Delhi, India, drawing attention to the Philippines’ legal challenge of China’s sweeping claims over the South China Sea.

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In his lecture at the Institute for Defense and Security Analyses (Idsa), a prestigious and independent Indian security and defense think tank, Philippine Foreign Undersecretary for Policy Evan Garcia discussed the country’s position on the rule law and reported the latest developments in the arbitration case against China.

Garcia said the Philippines’ arbitration case to settle territorial disputes with China in the South China Sea was fully consistent with international law.

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Myth debunked

Garcia said arbitration, which is provided for in the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (Unclos), allow small countries “to stand on equal footing with wealthier and more powerful states, confident in the conviction that right prevails over might.”

Garcia debunked observations that third-party arbitration was contrary to the Asian way of settling disputes.

“It has been claimed also—almost as gospel truth—that Asians are against submitting their disputes to international legal processes. Singapore’s Ambassador at Large Tommy Koh pointed out that this was incorrect, saying that Southeast Asian countries had a track record of referring their disputes to the international legal processes,” Garcia said.

Among the cases brought by Asian states to international courts were the Preah Vihear case between Cambodia and Thailand, the Sipadan and Ligatan case between Indonesia and Malaysia, the Pedra Branca-Pulau Batu Puteh case between Malaysia and Singapore, and the Burma (Myanmar)-Bangladesh maritime boundary delimitation case.

 

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Leading role

Garcia also cited India’s leading role in advancing the rule of law through its respect for the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea (Itlos) decision on its maritime delimitation case with Bangladesh.

He said that under the 1982 Manila Declaration on the Peaceful Settlement of International Disputes adopted by the UN General Assembly, recourse to a judicial settlement of legal disputes should not be considered an unfriendly act between states.

The lecture series was chaired by Indian Ambassador Sanjay Singh, former Secretary (East) of the Government of India’s Ministry of External Affairs.

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TAGS: Association of Southeast Asian Nations, India, India Eminent Persons Lecture Series, Maritime Disputes, South China Sea, territorial disputes, West Philippine Sea
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