President Rodrigo Duterte’s government in Philippines has called on China to comply with 2016 arbitral ruling which had ruled that China has no ‘historic rights over the waters of South China Sea’.
“Compliance in good faith with the award would be consistent with the obligations of the Philippines and China under international law, including UNCLOS (United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea) to which both parties are signatories,” Foreign Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. said in a statement.
The Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague, Netherlands had ruled that China has no ‘historic rights’ over the waters of the South China Sea. It also said that China has interfered with traditional Philippine fishing rights at Scarborough Shoal, even as Beijing claimed historic rights to the waters under the nine-dash line, which the tribunal said is contrary to the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) that determines which countries can claim economic exploitation rights, based on geographic features.
Locsin termed the award a “milestone in corpus of international law, the cornerstone of a rule-based regional and international order”.
“The Philippines, as a law-abiding, peace-loving and responsible member of the international community, reaffirms on this occasion its adherence to the award and its enforcement without any possibility of compromise or change. The award is non-negotiable,” said the Foreign Secretary.
China claims virtually entire South China Sea, something which is contested heavily by several countries in the region.
At the time of the ruling, President Xi Jinping said China’s “territorial sovereignty and marine rights” in the seas would not be affected by the ruling.
Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte, who has sought friendly ties with China has vowed to raise it with China “at a proper time”. But the friendly overtures from the President has not dented China from maintaining aggressive action in the South China Sea.
“The Tribunal authoritatively ruled that China’s claim of historic rights to resources within the sea areas falling within the ‘nine-dash line’ had no basis in law,” said Locsin while adding that rather, claims to historic rights, or other sovereign rights or jurisdiction that exceed the geographic and substantive limits of maritime entitlements under UNCLOS, are “without legal effect”.
“We commemorate the issuance of the award as a celebration of the rule of law as a means to settle disputes amicably, achieve peace, advance a rules-based and equitable international order, foster cooperation among friendly, responsible and civilized nations and clearly mark out who would be in the wrong to insist on claims contrary to this award,” Locsin said.
Earlier this month, the Philippines has warned Beijing of “the severest response” if Chinese military exercises in the disputed South China Sea spill over into Philippine territory.
Locsin, in a video message, said that the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) has been conducting naval exercises around Paracel Islands since July 1.