China’s actions in WPS undermines efforts to strengthen mutual trust and confidence — DFA
MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) on Monday slammed China over its water cannon attack on a Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) vessel in the West Philippine Sea, stressing that the move causes tension and “undermines efforts to strengthen mutual trust and confidence.”
“We value our relations with China and we hope that they, too, value their relations with the Philippines,” DFA spokesperson Teresita Daza said in a press conference.
“But clearly, this undermines efforts to strengthen mutual trust and confidence, a crucial element in friendly relations among states, between our countries, and it really does provide tension in our bilateral relations,” Daza added.
On Saturday, a China Coast Guard vessel fired a water cannon at a PCG vessel escorting a supply ship en route to Ayungin Shoal in the West Philippine Sea where military troops are stationed at the grounded BRP Sierra Madre.
The BRP Sierra Madre is a commissioned Philippine Navy vessel which has hosted a small contingent of military personnel to assert Manila’s claim to the disputed waters since 1999.
China, which refers to Ayungin Shoal ss Ren’ai Jiao, is demanding the removal of the Philippines’ grounded ship in the area.
But Daza said China has no right nor legal basis to prevent Philippine forces from conducting their operations in the area.
“As we repeatedly said, the rotation and supply mission was a routine activity conducted by the PCG and the Philippine Navy, in line with international law…” Daza said.
“Unclos (United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea) and the 2016 Arbitral Award have made clear that the Philippine exercises sovereign rights and jurisdiction under Ayungin Shoal, a low-tide elevation within the Philippines’ Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) and continental shelf,” she added. “China has no right or legal basis to prevent us from exercising such sovereign rights or jurisdiction.”
The Philippines, under the administration of then President Benigno Aquino III in 2013, challenged before the Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) Beijing’s claim that it owned more than 80 percent of the entire South China Sea through its nine-dash line concept which overlaps with the Philippines 200-nautical mile exclusive economic zone mandated by the Unclos.
On July 12, 2016, the PCA invalidated China’s claim to almost the entire South China Sea, ruling that China’s claim had no basis in international law and that it had violated the Philippines’ sovereign right to fish and explore resources in the West Philippine Sea, the waters within the country’s 370-kilometer EEZ in the South China Sea.
The government of the People’s Republic of China has repeatedly rejected the ruling.