DFA slams Chinese envoy’s remark on WPS: It’s distortion of law, fact
MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) criticized the claims of Chinese Consul General Zhang Zhen belittling the arbitral ruling that favors the Philippines’ position on the West Philippine Sea.
“The Philippines and China are both parties to UNCLOS [United Nations Convention on the Law of the Seas],” it pointed out in a message to reporters, as it stressed that it takes “serious exception” to the diplomat’s remark.
The DFA also emphasized that the Chinese official’s statement was a “misrepresentation of the law and the facts.”
“We have and will consistently call on China to act responsibly and abide by its obligations under UNCLOS and the final and binding 2016 Arbitral Award on the South China Sea,” it added.
During a visit to Iloilo City on February 8, the Chinese consul general said that his country would never accept The Hague ruling, asserting that its supposed ownership of almost the entire South China Sea, including the West Philippine Sea, is purportedly based on historical and legal facts. He said the arbitral ruling on the West Philippine Sea is “null and void.”
The July 2016 arbitral decision, however, invalidated the claims of China over the South China Sea, even stating that the Philippines has exclusive sovereign rights over the West Philippine Sea.
Amid this word war over the validity of the arbitral ruling on the disputed waters, the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) has continued to report harassment from its Chinese counterpart while conducting regular resupply missions to the country’s military outposts located in West Philippine Sea.
Earlier this year, the PCG said members of the China Coast Guard harassed Filipino fishers who were collecting sea shells near Bajo de Masinloc which is well within the Philippines’ exclusive economic zone.
Also on Tuesday, the Philippine Navy reported that it monitored the presence of two Chinese Navy vessels while US and Philippine troops conducted joint patrols in the West Philippine Sea last Friday.