China Blames PHL for Dispute in South China Sea; Manila Asserts Rights Over its Territory

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PRESIDENT AQUINO receives Chinese Foreign Minister Wang and party in Malacang.

MANILA (via PhilAmPress) — There seems to be no stopping to China’s belligerence and its assertion that it owns some islands, reefs and shoals within the Philippine territory, most of which it had reclaimed and built airports, seaports and other military and non-military structures on them.
This is shown once more in the pronouncement of China’s Foreign Minister Wang Yi in Manila ahead of the arrival of China’s President Xi for the leaders summit of the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) which angered Filipinos and could trigger demonstrations and rallies against China during the APEC meetings.
 Speaking to Manila-based Chinese journalists hours after his bilateral meeting with his Philippine counterpart Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario and a courtesy call on President Benigno S. Aquino III in Malacanang on Tuesday, November 11, Wang asserted it was the Philippines who should be blamed for starting the tension in South China Sea, adding that it should be the Philippines who should give way to clear the rift between the two countries.
Wang stressed that the Philippines should to solve its diplomatic rift with China.
“We hope that the Philippines can make a more sensible choice,” he said.

This developed as the Netherlands-based Permanent Court of Arbitration has scheduled a week-long hearing starting Nov. 24 on the Philippines’ case challenging China’s enormous claim on disputed South China Sea territories.

“Oral hearing on the merits of the Philippines-China arbitration case under Annex VII of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) will be held from November 24 to November 30, 2015 at The Hague,” the Department of Foreign Affairs said in a statement.

The hearing is being held after the tribunal on Oct. 30 announced that it has jurisdiction over the Philippines’ complaint, debunking China’s argument that the case is beyond the scope of the court’s mandate.
In its decision, the tribunal said it has immediate jurisdiction on seven out of 15 points raised by Manila against China, called “submissions” in legal parlance, but postponed for “later consideration” its jurisdiction ruling on eight other issues raised by Manila, saying it will be decided on as it conducts a formal hearing on the merits of the case.
China says it owns about 90 percent of the South China Sea and the cluster of islands, reefs and atolls, called the Spratlys.
Beijing’s claim to almost the entire South China Sea is reportedly shown on Chinese maps with a nine-dash line that stretches deep into the maritime heart of Southeast Asia which is being contested by the Philippines before the international tribunal.
The nine-dash line also includes parts of the Indonesian-held Natuna islands. Jakarta has kept a low profile in the dispute but is now reported to be planning to take China to the “International Criminal Court” if Beijing’s claim was not resolved through dialogue, according to Indonesia’s security chief, Luhut Panjaitan.

Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei and Taiwan also have overlapping claims to the waters, a major shipping lane and home to vast oil and mineral deposits.
“China’s nine-dash line claim is expansive, excessive and has no basis under international law,” said Charles Jose, spokesman of the Philippine Department of Foreign Affairs.
“If left unchallenged, we could lose about 80 percent of our EEZ (exclusive economic zone),” Jose warned.
“China’s unilateral, aggressive and provocative actions to assert her claims in South China Sea affect our ability to exercise our sovereign rights and jurisdiction over our maritime entitlements,” Jose said. “To address these, we have resorted to arbitration.”
 
 Jose said the Philippines is determined to see through the conclusion of its arbitration case that seeks to invalidate China’s huge sea claim.
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 Jose maintained that arbitration, “a universally-recognized dispute settlement mechanism,” is “a peaceful and enduring solution” to the overlapping claims in the South China Sea — a resource-rich body of water also being claimed in parts or in whole by Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei and Taiwan.
“We are determined to pursue the arbitration case to its logical conclusion,” Jose said in a statement.

In its case, Manila seeks to declare as illegal China’s so-called nine-dash line claim — a U-shaped enclosure that puts almost the entire South China Sea, including parts of the Philippines’ exclusive economic zone, under its territory.
Jose maintained China’s nine-dash line claim is “expansive, excessive and has no basis under international law,” including the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, which allows coastal states to explore, exploit and manage areas within its 200-nautical mile EEZ.

China’s Wang called on the Philippines to solve its diplomatic rift with China.
“We hope that the Philippines can make a more sensible choice,” he said.
Tensions flared after China beefed up its reclamation activities in disputed areas and transformed seven previously submerged features into artificial islands with buildings several stories high with at least two runways.
Several countries, including the US and Japan, have raised concerns on China’s rapid island-building. The US has sent its US Navy missile destroyer USS Lassen and support ships and airplanes on patrol to the disputed area.
“China’s unilateral, aggressive and provocative actions to assert her claims in South China Sea affect our ability to exercise our sovereign rights and jurisdiction over our maritime entitlements,” Jose said. “To address these, we have resorted to arbitration.”

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