4:13 pm | Tuesday, August 6th, 2013
MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) rejects China’s “indisputable” claim over the entire West Philippine Sea (South China Sea), including parts of the country’s 200-mile Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) – the “core issue” of the territorial dispute between the two countries, a spokesman for the DFA said Tuesday.
“We once again redirect China to the core issue which is its claim of indisputable sovereignty over nearly all of the South China Sea under its ‘nine dash line’ position,” said assistant secretary Raul Hernandez.
“The Philippines has asserted before the Arbitral Tribunal, to which China has been invited but has refused to participate, that the nine dash line claim is expansive, excessive and in gross violation of international law,” he told reporters.
China’s nine dash line encompasses nearly the entire West Philippine Sea including the Spratly’s group of Islands near Palawan and Bajo de Masinloc (Scarborough Shoal or Panatag Shoal).
It also encroaches into the EEZ of Vietnam, Malaysia, and Brunei, among other Southeast Asian countries.
Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi proposed three ways to solve the territorial dispute between individual countries.
First was the bilateral talks between parties directly involved, second was for the implementation of the “Declaration of the Conduct of the South China Sea” for peace and stability, and third was to look for ways of common exploitation that would economically benefit all concerned parties.
China has repeatedly stated its objection to any arbitration of the dispute.
The arbitral tribunal of the United Nations Convention of the Laws of the Seas (UNCLOS) as began its proceedings on the dispute between the Philippines and China.
Tensions rose on the territorial dispute issue when several Chinese fishing vessels were found illegally poaching Philippine endangered and endemic marine species in Bajo de Masinloc.
The arrest of the Chinese fishermen was prevented by the arrival of Chinese Maritime Security vessels that blocked the path of Philippine authorities.
The DFA has filed several protests before China but to no avail.
Filipino fishermen have been unable to fish in the shoal since.
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