FFE Magazine

Philippine stance vs. China gaining Support

by FFE PH News Staff

 

To counter China’s aggressive claim on the West Philippine Sea, the Philippines invoked the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (Unclos), a defiant move that has just gained the praise and support of international law experts.

China's military buildings in the Scarborough shoal.

China’s military structures in the Scarborough shoal.

 

As tensions mount in the West Philippine Sea and, more recently, in the East China Sea, independent Philippine think-tank Angara Centre for Law and Economics organised a forum on territorial disputes at sea.

 

At the forum, Singapore Institute for Southeast Asian Studies senior fellow Ian Storey said that China’s historical nine-dash-line claim on the South China Sea (that overlaps with the West Philippine Sea) ‘stands in the way of a resolution and joint development.’

 

He added that such a claim should be settled according to ‘historical facts and international law.’

 

US Ambassador to the Philippines Philip Goldberg meanwhile told Senate President Franklin Drilon in a briefing that ‘I think you know where we stand and that is we think we should be working very much to reduce tensions, whether that is in Southeast Asia or Northeast Asia.’

 

Goldberg is referring to China’s declaration of an air defense zone in Northeast Asia’s East China Sea. America’s Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. has already met with and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Chinese President Xi Jinping about easing the tension brought by China’s action in the region. However, the Chinese president remained firm on their actions.

 

Scarborough Shoal Philippines Map-768590

Tension between China and the Philippines rose when the former seized control of Scarborough Shoal in the West Philippine Sea. The Philippines has asked for UN arbitration early this year. Next year, the country plans to file a pleading to UN courts against China.

 

More recently, there have been reports saying China may similarly declare an air defense zone over the West Philippine Sea. Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin has dismissed the reports as ‘speculative.’ However, he confessed that such a move will pose a threat to regional security.

 

StanfordUniversity senior fellow Donald Emmerson said invoking the Unclos will help resolve all disputes, especially since growing US-China rivalry is also affecting the region. He added that there are ‘Other channels [which] include bilateral and multiple negotiations—bilateral, minilateral, and multilateral—designed to induce, end, or alter specific actions by the parties concerned.’

 

US ambassador to the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) David Carden, who is slated to visit Manila, said America is fully behind the Philippine-led peaceful resolution to the dispute in the region. He said ‘we do believe, all disputes of whatever nature should be resolved peacefully and in accordance with international law.

 

‘We have a deep stake, as does the rest of the world in that case.’

 

 

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