China blocks rules-based resolutions on territorial rows

China blocks rules-based resolutions on territorial rows

Senator Ronald “Bato” dela Rosa - 24nov2023

Senator Ronald “Bato” dela Rosa faces the media on the sidelines of the Asia-Pacific Parliamentary Forum. / Charie Abarca

China on Friday blocked the separate initiatives of the Philippines and Indonesia to seek the cooperation of the parliamentarians from Asia-Pacific countries in addressing the overlapping maritime disputes in the South China Sea.

Sen. Ronald dela Rosa said Beijing raised its “reservations” and objections to the contents of the two draft resolutions that Manila and Jakarta presented on the second day of the 31st Asia-Pacific Parliamentary Forum (APPF) in Pasay City.


“The rules of APPF is different. There is no division of the house. According to our rules, there should be a consensus [among all the delegates],” Dela Rosa told reporters after presiding over the APPF plenary session on political and security matters.


“Since China has opposed, we have to follow the rules. But anyway, we will still have a working group. Maybe we could still work it out there,” he said.

According to the senator, the Philippines was pushing for a rules-based approach and adherence to the international law in resolving the territorial row among the APPF member-states.

Indonesia, on the other hand, was seeking the group’s member-parliaments to respect the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (Unclos) and to support the immediate approval of the Code of Conduct in the South China Sea issue.

China has consistently defied the Philippines’ 2016 arbitral court ruling, which cited the Unclos in recognizing Manila’s sovereignty in the West Philippine Sea.

“We share the same sentiments with Indonesia. We are very thankful for Indonesia for being very aggressive in giving out their stand,” Dela Rosa said.


Speaking at the APPF plenary, Sen. Jinggoy Estrada exhorted the delegates to “raise serious concerns” over the latest incidents in the West Philippine Sea, where Chinese ships had attacked and harassed Philippine ships conducting routine patrols and resupply missions.


READ: APPF member-states support PH bid for UN Security Council seat — Zubiri

Sen. Francis Tolentino said it was “frustrating” for the Chinese delegation to reject the initiatives urging the Asia-Pacific parliamentarians to come together in defending the international law.

“It’s really a pity,” Tolentino said. “Maybe that’s part [of China] spoiling our Christmas.”

Meanwhile, the Philippines will still conduct joint patrols in the West Philippine Sea with allied nations despite warnings from China that such actions could fan further tensions in the South China Sea.

According to Defense Secretary Gilberto Teodoro Jr., there would be “several iterations” of such activities following the conclusion of the three-day joint maritime and air patrol of the Philippines and United States from Tuesday to Thursday.

“This should not be an issue because it is entirely within the rights of the Philippines to patrol anywhere whether in the high seas or in the area where it has jurisdiction pursuant to international law,” he said during a press briefing on Friday during the Department of National Defense anniversary in Camp Aguinaldo in Quezon City.

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“We have the sole police jurisdiction over the area [in the West Philippine Sea]. And it is a question for the Philippines, and not any other country to determine,” he added.

TAGS: Asia-Pacific, China, parliament, Parliamentarians

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