Yasay denies China claim of victory in Asean meeting
Foreign Affairs Secretary Perfecto Yasay on Wednesday denied that China “won” when the Philippines reportedly dropped a request to mention, in an Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) statement, the historic arbitral tribunal ruling on the disputed South China Sea.
“I am saying this to dispel the reports in being said that China came out victorious…precisely because we did not agree to mention the arbitral award,” Yasay said during a press conference at the Department of Foreign Affairs.
“The arbitral award is an issue between China and the Philippines. The purpose of Asean was simply to address the South China Sea issue in terms of trying to resolve it, consistent with the general laws,” he said.
Yasay, who attended the Asean Foreign Ministers’ Meeting in Laos, then went on to read parts of the joint communique discussing the Asean’s commitment to uphold peaceful resolution of disputes in accordance to international law.
Asked if he did push for the mention of the arbitral award, the Secretary said, “Yes. Vigorously. I pushed for the inclusion and mentioning of the arbitration award. Again, this was a diplomatic tact that must be made.”
“I am very happy with the joint communiqué statement…I am very proud of Asean. I am very proud that Asean has recognized its key role as a regional group,” he said.
On July 12, the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague, Netherlands ruled in favor of the Philippines, which filed a petition against China’s “nine-dash line” claim, a claim contested by its other neighboring countries.
The tribunal said China had no basis to claim historic rights in the area and that it had violated the Philippines’ sovereign rights by doing the following: (a) interfering with Philippine fishing and petroleum exploration, (b) constructing artificial islands and (c) failing to prevent Chinese fishermen from fishing in the zone.
Contrary to Yasay’s claim, an earlier report quoted an Asean diplomat saying that the Philippines agreed not to mention the ruling in the communiqué to prevent disagreement that may result in the group failing to issue a statement. CDG
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