Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Find the Chinese boats, DFA asks PHL Coast Guard

The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) on Tuesday asked the Philippine Coast Guard to determine the exact location of 30 Chinese fishing boats supposedly in the disputed Spratly Islands in West Philippine Sea.

“The Chinese fishing vessels must not intrude into the EEZ of the Philippines. We require China to respect the sovereign rights of the Philippines in our EEZ,” Hernandez said.

“We want to make sure where they are and if they’re in our exclusive economic zone,” Foreign Affairs spokesman Raul Hernandez said in a press briefing.

The United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea or UNCLOS has outlined a 200-nautical mile exclusive economic zone or EEZ for maritime states like the Philippines, giving them sole right to manage, explore and exploit resources within this area.

The treaty, signed by the Philippines, China and 162 other nations, also grants coastal nations rights to continental shelf regions beyond their economic zones.

The Philippines will file a diplomatic protest once the Chinese vessels intrude into Philippine waters, Hernandez said.

The fishing vessels, China’s largest deployment in contested waters to date, supposedly arrived in the Spratlys’s Yongshu Reef last Sunday.

China virtually claims the entire West Philippines Sea, also known as South China Sea, even where it overlaps with the territorial waters of neighbors, including the Philippines.

The vast waters, coveted for its strategic shipping lanes and rich gas and oil reserves, are home to a cluster of islands, shoals, cays, and reefs and teem with rich fishing areas.

Apart from China and the Philippines, other claimants are Vietnam, Brunei, Malaysia and Taiwan. The territorial disputes have long been feared as a potential flashpoint for armed conflict.-GMA News (July 9:47PM)

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