Philippines ready to validate claim to Spratlys in UN forum
The Philippines is prepared to validate its claim to the Spratlys and other territories in the West Philippine Sea under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (Unclos) and is inviting China to do the same with its own claims, according to Foreign Secretary Albert del Rosario.
All conflicting claims should be resolved based on the rules-based regime of the Unclos if the disputes in the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea) are to be peacefully and finally settled, Del Rosario said in a press statement Tuesday.
The foreign secretary was reacting to a Chinese foreign ministry statement which dismissed as “groundless” the Philippines’ claims that the Chinese Navy had entered Philippine waters.
China “will not accept the groundless accusations from the Philippines side,” said Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson Liu Weinin, who added that he “[hoped] the Philippines will not create something from nothing and cause disturbances.”
In his statement, Del Rosario said the Philippines considered “our valuable and long-standing friendship with China to be one that is based on mutual respect and equality.”
“The Philippines prepared to validate our claims under Unclos and we cordially invite China to join us in endeavoring to validate its claims,” he said.
China, the Philippines and four other claimant Asian countries have been locked in a tense dispute over potentially oil- and gas-rich areas in the Spratly island chain.
The Philippines and Vietnam have separately accused Chinese vessels of repeatedly intruding into Spratlys areas under their control and sabotaging oil explorations in their regular territorial waters in the first six months of last year.
In the latest flaring of tensions, the Philippines last weekend protested to Beijing the alleged intrusion of three Chinese Navy ships near the Sabina (Escoda) Shoal on December 11 and 12.
Escoda Shoal lies within the Philippines’ internationally recognized 200-mile exclusive economic zone (EEZ) and is “within Philippine sovereignty and maritime jurisdiction,” Del Rosario said.
However, China claims all of the South China Sea, including the entire Spratlys island chain.
Insisting that the Escoda Shoal lay within its territory, China said it saw nothing wrong with the passage of three Chinese vessels near the sandbar in the West Philippine Sea, said the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA).
According to DFA spokesperson Raul Hernandez, the Chinese charge d’affaires in Manila had “verbally said that Sabina Shoal has a Chinese name and is within their territorial jurisdiction.”
Hernandez did not say what the foreign office planned to do next after it filed a diplomatic protest against the latest intrusion by Chinese ships into the country’s EEZ.
Del Rosario called the Chinese intrusions “clear violations of the 2002 Association of Southeast Asian Nations-China Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea, as well as the United Nations Convention on the law of the Sea.”
Originally posted at 07:54 pm | Tuesday, January 10, 2012
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