Nations continue to press China on PH arbitral win | Global News

Nations continue to press China on PH arbitral win

/ 05:30 AM July 13, 2023

Nations continue to press China on PH arbitral win

FANNING THE FLAME | Militant groups gather for a demonstration outside the Chinese consulate in Makati City on Wednesday, July 12, 2023, to mark the seventh anniversary of the historic 2016 arbitration ruling that rejected China’s sweeping claims in the South China Sea, which Beijing refuses to recognize. (Photo by MARIANNE BERMUDEZ / Philippine Daily Inquirer)

MANILA, Philippines — India added its voice to the chorus of nations calling on China to respect the 2016 arbitral ruling that voided Beijing’s sweeping claims in the South China Sea, as they joined the Philippines in marking the seventh anniversary of Manila’s legal victory on Wednesday.

Indian Ambassador to the Philippines Shambhu Kumaran reiterated New Delhi’s new position urging Beijing to adhere to the ruling, after staying neutral over the past seven years.


“All countries have an obligation to respect international law, but perhaps bigger countries have a larger obligation to respect international law,” Kumaran said during an event in Makati City organized by the think tank Stratbase ADR Institute.


Besides India, which revised its neutral position in June, ambassadors from other countries that have long supported the 2016 award — United States, Australia, Japan, the European Union, France, the United Kingdom — took part in the event to show support for the ruling.

US Ambassador MaryKay Carlson said Washington was doing its share “to protect this critical maritime area,” through the promotion of respect for international law and rules-based order, maritime capacity building programs, and freedom of navigation operations and routine presence operations.

Critical to the region

“When we look at Southeast Asia, from geography to demographics to the economy, we see that what happens in the Philippines is critical to what happens in the Indo-Pacific and the world. These include challenges to the rules-based international order via provocations in the South China Sea,” she said.

Also on Wednesday, the US Department of State urged Beijing to “comport its maritime claims with international law as reflected in the 1982 Law of the Sea Convention.”

It also urged China to “stop its harassment of claimant state vessels lawfully operating in their exclusive zones; halt its disruption of states’ sovereign rights to explore, exploit, conserve and manage natural resources; and end its interference with the freedoms of navigation and overflight of states lawfully operating in the region.”

On July 12, 2016, the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague, Netherlands, issued a unanimous decision that voided China’s broad claims in the South China Sea and recognized the Philippines’ sovereign right to fish and explore resources within its 370-kilometer exclusive economic zone.


China has consistently refused to recognize the ruling.

During the Stratbase forum, the diplomats took turns discussing how their countries were supporting the Philippines in the face of China’s aggression in the disputed waters.

‘Walking the talk’

Australian Ambassador HK Yu said it was important to “walk the talk” in supporting the Hague decision.

“It’s not just about saying the arbitral award is important… It’s about actually following through your actions… that’s what we really mean by walking the talk,” she said.

“That is why Australia is investing P3.6 billion in regional maritime programs, of which the Philippines is a significant beneficiary,” she said.

French Ambassador Michèle Boccoz said preparations were underway for France to send its Navy flagship and aircraft carrier Charles de Gaulle to the region by 2025.

European Union Ambassador and Head of Delegation Luc Veron said the EU was also stepping up its engagement with the Philippines in more operational terms for regional peace and stability, including in capacity building and information sharing.

Japanese Ambassador Kazuhiko Koshikawa cited Tokyo’s efforts to strengthen support for the Philippine maritime law enforcement and maritime domain awareness capabilities.

“Our defense cooperation has been enhanced recently, and we are working on a new framework, including what we call a reciprocal access agreement, or a visiting forces agreement, as well as MDA capacity building of the Armed Forces of the Philippines through our new grant scheme called official security assistance,” he said.

British Ambassador Laure Beaufils said the United Kingdom would send a carrier strike group in the region in 2025 to exercise freedom of navigation.

‘Active, activist posture’

“The UK will continue to demonstrate its support and stand up for the principles of sovereignty and territorial integrity and nonaggression… UK will take a more active and activist posture on the world stage,” she said.

On Tuesday, the EU delegation and the embassies of Belgium, Czechia, Denmark, Germany, Ireland, Greece, Spain, France, Italy, Netherlands, Poland, Austria, Romania, Slovakia, Finland and Sweden issued a joint statement in support of the ruling.

They said the Hague ruling was a “significant milestone, which is legally binding upon the parties to those proceedings, and a useful basis for peacefully resolving disputes between the parties.”

But the Chinese foreign ministry on Wednesday reiterated that China does not accept or recognize the arbitral ruling.

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The ruling violated the principle of state consent and went beyond its authority to hear the case and perverted law, spokesperson Wang Wenbin told a regular news conference.



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