Thursday, January 10, 2013

DFA: China now has 'three strikes' against PHL

It might not be long before China is declared out.

Department of Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario on Thursday said that China has committed three strikes against the Philippines and other claimant nations of disputed territories in the West Philippine Sea, and the Philippines continues to be vigilant against any more.

In a Palace briefing following Japanese Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida's courtesy call on President Aquino, Del Rosario enumerated a laundry list of violations committed by China against international law, the first being is its excessive claims in the South China Sea.

Three strikes

"If you look at the posture of China in the South China Sea, their fixed posture is they have indisputable sovereignty over nearly all of the South China Sea. Now, this of course is an excessive claim. It’s in violation of international law—strike one," Del Rosario said.

Strike two, said Rosario, is China’s insistence about governing these disputed territories, in particular the establishment of Sansha City on Yongxing Island.

In order to be able to reinforce [their sovereignty], what they’ve done is that they have called for a reestablishment of an administrative unit to oversee the entire area which they consider as the nine-dash," Del Rosario said.

"[We’re] talking about Sansha City being in the Paracels and the administrative unit [encompassing] Macclesfield Bank, which also includes the Bajo de Masinloc," he added.

Lastly, Del Rosario cited the recent controversial law passed by China that will allow Chinese troops to board foreign ships that will ply the route of disputed territories, potentially causing adverse effects on freedom of navigation.

"Then they come up with this new law which provides for enforcement in terms of interdiction of ships in those areas. So strike three already," Del Rosario said.

Additionally, Del Rosario cited China’s insistence of building infrastructure and budget allocations as more proof of China’s belligerence in the face of the territorial disputes.

"And then, of course, they’re coming up with all kinds of infrastructure and releasing figures on budgets that they intend to use to be able to establish their presence there. So I think these are all very threatening and we have been protesting these moves by China," Del Rosario said.

Both China and the Philippines—as well Taiwan, Malaysia, Brunei and Vietnam—are locked in a dispute over ownership of the Spratly Islands, a chain of islands and islets believed to be rich in oil and minerals deposits, in the West Philippine Sea. Japan, on the other hand, claims the Senkaku Islands, which China also asserts ownership over.

Last year, China issued new passports that depicted the disputed areas in the West Philippine Sea as being part of its territory—a move that angered the Philippines and other claimants to the territories.

PHL-Japan cooperation

Yet despite these complaints, Del Rosario did not specify any actions moving forward to assert the Philippine claim over disputed territories, but instead stuck to the party line of a desire for a "peaceful resolution" over the disputes.

"I think there’s a mutual agreement that we should pursue peaceful resolution to these disputes and we’re trying to find out what the right formulation is," he said when asked if the Philippine government and Japan have agreed upon anything to resolve China’s continuing assertions.

Instead, the Foreign Secretary said the Philippines and Japan continue to work towards a speedy resolution of the disputes, for the benefit of all parties concerned.

"Well, I think what we agreed [that] because we do have this threat and this threat actually is shared by many countries not just with Japan, we should continue to talk and see to what extent and cooperate in terms of coming to a peaceful resolution of the disputes," Del Rosario said.

However, he consented to say that in discussions with Kishida, the Philippines pushed for a three-pronged approach when dealing with China.

"In the bilateral discussions that the ambassador and the Foreign Minister and I had, I explained the three-tracked approach which is the political, [the] diplomatic, and the legal," he said.

Del Rosario also reported that Japan and the Philippines will heighten cooperation toward maritime safety, particularly in patrolling disputed waters.

"I think we’re already receiving a significant measure of assistance and support from Japan in terms of capacity building for the Coast Guard. I’m referring to the Coast Guard capacity building in terms of training and, as I said, we have this communication system that Japan will be funding that will provide for a greater maritime safety element as far as the Coast Guard is concerned," he said.

The support comes in the form of a grant, Del Rosario explained, which will be used to develop 10 multirole response vessels.

"We also discussed the maritime security and we discussed assistance to the [Philippine] Coast Guard in terms of its multirole response vessels which is being funded by the Japanese government," he said. The patrol ships will be ready in about 18 months, Del Rosario added.

Other than assistance in terms of procuring new patrol ships, Del Rosario also said Japan has pledged support for LRT extension projects, as well as the development of a new Bohol airport.

"In the hands of the Japanese government are already the LRT-1 South, that goes to Cavite and LRT-2 East, that goes to Antipolo. These are extensions. In addition to that, we have the new Bohol airport," he said.-GMA News (December 10, 2013 6:11PM)

No comments: