MANILA, Philippines—The Philippines has quietly put forward to the United Nations an international tribunal ruling which found no basis for China’s claim to virtually the entire South China Sea but which the Duterte administration has set aside.
The Philippine Permanent Mission to the UN early this month submitted its response to address China’s diplomatic note to the UN over Malaysia’s petition to extend the limits of its continental shelf in the South China Sea.
“The Government of the Republic of the Philippines considers China’s positions as inconsistent with international law, including the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (Unclos), which comprehensively allocates maritime rights to the States,” the Philippine Mission said in a note verbale to the UN Secretary General, Antonio Gutteres, dated March 6.
“On the features in the South China Sea, the Republic of the Philippines has sovereignty and jurisdiction over the Kalayaan Island Group and Bajo de Masinloc,” it said.
Malaysia filed its claim at the UN to establish its boundaries in December, angering China.
“China has internal waters, territorial sea and a contiguous zone based on its Nanhai Zhudao,” the Chinese mission said in a note to the UN, referring to its islands in the South China Sea.
“China has an exclusive economic zone and continental shelf…China has historic rights in the South China Sea,” it said.
China claims “indisputable sovereignty” over nearly the entire South China Sea, including the West Philippine Sea. This has become clear in their aggressive actions in waters that it claims to be part of China.
Manila filed a case against Beijing in the Permanent Court of Arbitration in 2012 after the China seized control of Scarborough Shoal following a standoff.
The nine-dash line claim was invalidated by the arbitral court in 2016, but China simply ignored the ruling. President Rodrigo Duterte, in the meantime, decided to sweep the ruling under the rug in exchange for closer ties with Beijing and hopefully more Chinese loans and investments.
Aside from the Philippines and China, Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei, and Taiwan also have claims in the South China Sea, which is crisscrossed by vital sea-lanes through which $5 trillion in global commerce passes every year and where islets, reefs, and atolls are believed to be sitting atop vast energy reserves.
China in recent years had transformed reefs and islands into outposts equipped with harbors, airstrips, missile shelters, and communications facilities.
“The Tribunal conclusively settled the issue of historic rights and maritime entitlements in the South China Sea,” the Philippine mission to the UN said in the note verbale uploaded to the UN website.
“The Tribunal ruled that claims to historic rights or other sovereign rights to jurisdiction that exceed the geographic and substantive limits of maritime entitlements under Unclos, are without lawful effect,” it said.
Edited by TSB
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