Carpio accuses China of ‘double standard’ in conduct of naval drills
MANILA, Philippines — Retired Supreme Court Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio has accused China of “double standard” in the conduct of naval exercises after Beijing’s top diplomat in Manila insisted that external powers should not be allowed to “roil the waters” in the South China Sea.
In an interview over ABS-CBN News Channel on Monday, Carpio noted that the United States and China have differing views in the conduct of freedom of navigation operations.
“China is saying that freedom of navigation and overflight does not include the conduct of naval exercises but when Chinese vessels go to the Mediterranean Sea, when they go to the Baltic Sea, when they go to the exclusive economic zone of Alaska, they follow the US position that the freedom of navigation involves naval drills,” he said.
“They are adapting to a double standard. They’re saying ‘Not in the South China Sea because this is exclusively ours.’ We cannot allow that because the moment we agree to that, we are giving China a special right to the South China Sea and that can balloon into a claim to the resources of the South China Sea,” he added.
Carpio stressed that China should be pressed to “strictly” adhere to international laws when it comes to the South China Sea.
“We have to demand that China respect international laws and UNCLOS (United Nations Convention for the Law of the Sea) strictly the way it respects UNCLOS to the Mediterranean Sea, the Baltic Sea, and to the rest of the oceans in the world. There can be no double standard because that double standard will be applied against us,” he said.
Further, Carpio said the United States and its allied countries “have a right to be in the West Philippines Sea,” parts of which are included in China’s expansive claims in the South China Sea.
“You cannot exclude the US and its allies…they have a right to sail there under international law and under UNCLOS,” he added.
The retired magistrate, one of the leading experts and staunch defenders of the country’s sovereign rights in the West Philippine Sea, also underscored the importance of Philippine participation in maritime drills of other navies in the South China Sea.
“They are the most effective means to enforce the ruling,” Carpio said, referring to the 2016 decision of the Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) in The Hague, Netherlands, invalidating China’s sweeping nine-dash line claims in the South China Sea.
“We must welcome this [freedom of navigation operations] and even join them,” he added.
In August, Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said that President Rodrigo Duterte has a standing order to them that the Philippine military must stay out of naval exercises with other navies, including those spearheaded by the United States, in the South China Sea “except our national waters, the 12-mile distance from our shores.”
China had welcomed Duterte’s order but Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. maintained that the Philippines is not giving up any of its claims despite Manila’s non-participation in this year’s naval exercises.
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