Philippines says no compromise on 2016 sea victory against China

Elias Hubbard
July 13, 2020

The Chinese embassy in Manila on Monday claimed that the Permanent Court of Arbitration's ruling in favor of the Philippines in 2016 over disputed areas in the West Philippine Sea is "illegal and invalid".

"The award is non-negotiable", Locsin said in the statement.

On Sunday as the Philippines marked the fourth anniversary of the historic South China Sea ruling asserting the country's claims on the sea, Foreign Affairs Secretary Teddy Boy Locsin Jr. called on China to adhere to the ruling and that the arbitration award is "non-negotiable".

It's the strongest statement the Philippines has issued so far in marking the milestone.

The Trump administration rejected China's expansive claims in the South China Sea, reversing a previous policy of not taking sides in territorial disputes in the region and escalating tensions with Beijing on yet another front.

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte previous year said he would ignore the 2016 court ruling in order to advance oil exploration plans with Beijing.

Duterte has always been criticized by nationalists and left-wing groups for not immediately and strongly demanding Chinese compliance with the ruling, which he initially relegated to the back burner while he took steps to revive relations with China that have been strained due to the long-raging territorial conflicts.

In the past, the USA has called for protecting "freedom of navigation" in the contested waterway while stopping short of taking a position on specific territorial claims. He has turned to China for trade, investment and aid while often lashing out at USA security policies.

Locsin said the Tribunal also found that the Philippines could declare certain sea areas part of its exclusive economic zone (EEZ), as these areas do not overlap with any possible entitlement claimed by China. "China's territorial sovereignty and maritime rights and interests in the South China Sea will under no circumstances be affected by this award", the statement reads.

"The Tribunal ruled that certain actions within the Philippines' EEZ violated the Philippines' sovereign rights and were thus unlawful; that large-scale reclamation and construction of artificial islands caused severe environmental harm in violation of global conventions; that the large-scale harvesting of endangered marine species damaged the marine ecosystem; and that actions taken since the commencement of the arbitration had aggravated the disputes", Locsin pointed out.

The Tribunal ruled that certain actions within the Philippines' EEZ violated the Philippines' sovereign rights and were thus unlawful; that large-scale reclamation and construction of artificial islands caused severe environmental harm in violation of global conventions; that the large-scale harvesting of endangered marine species damaged the marine ecosystem; and that actions taken since the commencement of the arbitration had aggravated the disputes.

He also said the Philippines, as a law-abiding, peace-loving and responsible member of the worldwide community, reaffirms its adherence to the award and its enforcement without any possibility of compromise or change. "We commemorate the issuance of the award as a celebration of the rule of law, as a means to settle disputes amicably. and clearly mark out who would be in the wrong to insist on claims contrary to this award".

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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