Thursday, January 31, 2013

Philippine complaint against China

By Michaela del Callar
MANILA, Jan. 23 (PNA) -- The Philippine complaint against China before a U.N. arbitration body is a comprehensive collection of Manila protests against Chinese expansionist moves in the West Philippine Sea in the last 17 years.

These include a demand for Beijing to end occupation and activities on eight reefs and shoal like Mischief Reef, seized in 1995.

Foreign Secretary Albert del Rosario announced Tuesday the Dept. of Foreign Affairs summoned Chinese Ambassador Ma Keqing to hand a note informing the Chinese government that the Philippines was taking their long unresolved territorial disputes before a U.N. arbitration body.

The bold move was taken after years long diplomatic and other efforts to resolve the territorial disputes have gone nowhere, he said.

It was the strongest step taken by President Benigno S. Aquino III's administration against perceived Chinese aggression in the West Philippine Sea, a step that fueled fears of a backlash from China, an Asian economic giant and a major global power.

The Philippine government said it hoped the legal action "will have no adverse effects on our trade with China."

In the diplomatic note handed by Foreign Assistant Secretary Teresa Lazaro to Ma at the DFA Tuesday, the Philippine government, thru Solicitor General Francis Jardeleza, sought an end to Chinese occupation and activities at Mischief reef, McKennan Reef, Gaven Reef, Subi Reef, Scarborough Shoal, Johnson Reef, Cuarteron Reef and Fiery Reef Cross Reef.

"China's occupation of and construction activities on them violate the sovereign rights of the Philippines," the note said.

These features, the DFA said are either part of the country's continental shelf or exclusive economic zone as mandated by the UN Convention on the Law of Sea, of which China, the Philippines and 162 other nations are signatories.

UNCLOS gives maritime nations the right to manage, explore and exploit features in areas within a 200-nautical mile limit from its coast.

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