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Carpio: China’s sea claims ‘fake news of the century’

DAVAO CITY — Supreme Court Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio described China’s claim that the West Philippine Sea was part of its historical territory as “fake news of the century and a gigantic fraud of the human race” that should not be allowed to pass.

He called on Filipinos and other peoples in Southeast Asia to spread the truth and debunk the Chinese narrative about the disputed South China Sea.

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“We cannot expect the Chinese government to tell its people it is fake history, we have to do it ourselves, and this will take time,” said Carpio, who keynoted the Civil Society Conversations on Democracy and Disinformation at the Ateneo de Davao University on Friday.

Historic rights extinguished

“We have to educate ourselves, educate all the other people in the world so that all of us together have to convince the Chinese people that is fake history, [they] have to give that up.”

Carpio noted China’s assertion that it had established presence in the South China Sea 2,000 years ago, hence, predating all other countries’ claims over the disputed waters.

Carpio explained that under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, of which China was a state party, all historic rights were extinguished.

But because the Chinese people were fed a different narrative by their government, the incursions into other country’s territorial waters were seen by them as mere exercise of their country’s historic rights, he said.

No farther than Hainan

Presenting old maps and studies made by Chinese scholars and experts, he pointed out that the territory under the rule of the Qing Dynasty reached no farther than Hainan province.

The Qing Dynasty (1644 to 1912) was the period when China saw its largest territorial expansion.

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The Chinese maps were among the 170 maps presented by the Philippines to the Permanent Court of Arbitration to argue against China’s nine-dash line claim over the South China Sea that encompassed territorial waters not just of the country but also of Malaysia, Indonesia, Brunei and Vietnam.

Nine-dash line invalid

On July 12, 2016, the arbitral tribunal ruled in favor of the Philippines, declaring the nine-dash line invalid.

China has distanced itself from the arbitration process and has refused to acknowledge the ruling.

Citing official documents, Carpio said the truth was that China only started to lay claim over waters beyond Hainan in 1932, with the Paracels Islands in Vietnam, and then with the Spratlys in 1946.

He also debunked recent claims by Chinese officials including President Xi Jinping that the great Chinese navigator Admiral Zheng He visited the Philippines 600 years ago.

This claim had been proven untrue by a Chinese scholar, Carpio noted.

Carpio said, however, that China had convinced its people of this “fake narrative” that it owned up to 85 percent of the South China Sea.

“That is the historical narrative of China, taught to every Chinese citizen from grade school to college so that every Chinese general, Politburo member, diplomat, teacher, student, they know this by heart and they believe it. They sincerely believe it,” Carpio said.

“You can’t change their minds … but this is totally false. I call this the fake history of the millennium, the fake news of the century. I call this a gigantic fraud of the human race,” he added.

“That’s why I can’t expect the Chinese government to comply with the [arbitral] ruling, because if it complies with the ruling, the Chinese people will overthrow the Chinese government for giving away sacred territory of China. They have a mantra: we will not give up a square inch of Chinese territory bequeath to us through our ancestors through centuries,” Carpio said.

Carpio emphasized the need for Filipinos to educate themselves about the truth because even some Filipino scholars had initially believed China’s claims which he characterized as the “grandest disinformation any country” had done after the World War II.

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TAGS: Antonio Carpio, Maritime Dispute, PH-China Relations, South China Sea, West Philippine Sea
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