China fears of their illogical territorial claims in Spratlys reject UN - ITLOS proposal

The dragon’s claim is base on lie not law

China’s rejection of Manila’s suggestion that both countries elevate their dispute in the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea) to the United Nations’ International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea (ITLOS) is an indication that Beijing may not be able to validate its territorial claims, Foreign Secretary Albert del Rosario said.

“China’s hesitation to accept the Philippine suggestion to elevate their dispute to ITLOS could lead to conclusion that China may not be able to validate their stated positions in accordance with the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS),” Del Rosario said in a statement yesterday (July 13, 2011).

He said the Philippines articulated to China on Monday that it is prepared to defend its position on the West Philippine Sea even as Manila “suggested” that both countries go to the ITLOS to resolve the dispute, but China rejected it the next day.

“China always maintains that the South China Sea dispute should be resolved . . . through direct negotiations between directly concerned countries,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hong Lei said, adding that the matter should also be dealt with according to “recognized international laws.”

Del Rosario said the exchange of views with Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi on a very wide bilateral agenda, including the discussion on the West Philippine Sea during his visit to Beijing last week upon the invitation of his counterpart, was very straightforward.

Although he described his visit as successful, Del Rosario said there was no change in the Philippines’ position and its position of multilateral resolution of the dispute. China maintained that the territorial claim should be dealt with a bilateral approach with claimant countries.

“In the exchange of views that we had we said the Philippines is prepared to defend its position in accordance with international law consistent with UNCLOS and we asked them if they would be willing to do the same,” Del Rosario said in a press conference on Monday. “And we also suggested that the proper forum would be the ITLOS.”

The ITLOS is an independent judicial body established by UNCLOS to adjudicate disputes arising out of the interpretation and application of the Convention.

When asked about China’s response to the Philippines’ suggestion for the two nations to raise the sea dispute to the ITLOS for resolution, Del Rosario said, “I’m not sure if there was a response.”

He, however, said the exchange of views was useful in terms of being able to clearly state the position of the two countries.

Del Rosario and his Chinese counterpart also had an extensive discussion on historic rights used by China as the basis for the validity of their 9-dash claim, which the Philippines rejected since it is not applicable to the situation.

“We brought to their attention the fact that under the UNCLOS this is not validated. They had actually pointed to a section of UNCLOS concerning historical basis and we said if they would like to revisit that provision it seems to us it is not applicable to the situation, to the circumstance and the position they have taken,” he added.

The Philippines lodged last April a diplomatic protest against China’s 9-dash line territorial claim over the whole of South China Sea.

The protest came in the form of a note verbale submitted through its Permanent Mission to the UN. The Philippines made three assertions related to the Kalayaan Island Group (KIG) situated within the Spratlys.

The map is called “9-dash line” or “9-dotted line” because it shows a series of nine dashes or dotted lines forming a ring around the South China Sea area, which China claims is part of its territory. The area includes the Spratlys group, a cluster of oil-rich islands disputed by five other countries, including the Philippines.

China has been using the map with nine dashes in asserting its territorial claim over the whole of the South Sea. But the map first made its way to the UN body, when China used it to challenge the claim made by Vietnam and Malaysia over their extended continental shelves in the South China Sea.

China had taken the position that no Chinese ship intrusions took place in the West Philippine Sea because Beijing claims territorial sovereignty belongs to them.

“Of course we disputed this position. Our stand and position is fully supported by international law in particular the UNCLOS and we asked them to define and to be able to explain their own position,” Del Rosario said.

The Philippines protested the actions of China in the West Philippine Sea and sightings of China Marine Surveillance (CMS) vessel and other People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) ships unloading building materials and erecting an undetermined number of posts.                     

Although China made no assurance that it would not engage in activities that would contribute to tension in the West Philippine Sea, Del Rosario said he expected things to become “normal.”

The secretary and his counterpart expressed that both countries want a peaceful resolution of the issue but he stressed that it should be resolved on the basis of the application of international law, a multilateral approach, and the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties (DOC) in the South China Sea.

Institute of maritime affairs pushed

Meanwhile, Sen. Edgardo Angara said an institute on maritime affairs that will train a pool of diplomatic, economic, maritime and legal experts on territorial disputes will provide the solution to the Spratlys dispute.

He said the creation of the institute he is proposing will enable the country to have experts who can competently uphold the country’s interests in international dialogues, including territorial disputes such as the Spratlys.

Angara, vice chairman of the Senate committee on foreign relations, said he is now discussing with the Law Center of the University of the Philippines, of which he was a former president, to iron out the details of the formation of an Institute of Maritime Affairs that will advance the country’s ocean-related interests.

He said this institute will be instrumental in beefing up the country’s capacity to protect its maritime and territorial interests, especially as the conflict over the Spratly Islands continues to simmer.

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