DFA: China accelerating expansionist agenda
Patricia Lourdes Viray (The Philippine Star) - March 26, 2015 - 12:58pm

MANILA, Philippines - The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) on Thursday said China is accelerating its agenda in actualizing its "nine-dash line" claim over the entire South China Sea.

"It is clear to us that China is accelerating its expansionist agenda and changing the status quo to actualize its 'nine-dash line' claim and to control nearly the entire South China Sea before the conclusion of the Code of Conduct and the handing down of a decision of the arbitral tribunal on the Philippine submission," DFA Secretary Albert Del Rosario said during a special forum on the South China Sea.

Last January 2013, the Philippines filed a case with the arbitral tribunal, challenging the validity of China's nine-dash line claim.

According to Del Rosario, China refused to participate in the proceedings and instead released a position paper claiming that the court has no jurisdiction over the issue.

"The maritime dispute between the Philippines and China goes beyond the issue of maritime entitlements. This is about the principled stand of the Philippines to defend its legitimate rights which are currently being violated," Del Rosario said.

The Tribunal asked the Philippines for additional arguments and information last December 2014, which the country submitted last March.

The 7,000 page submission contains detailed responses and extensive additional information which merits the Philippines' claims.

"The Philippines takes a positive view that its answers to the tribunal’s questions leave no doubt that the tribunal has jurisdiction over the case and that the Philippines’ claims, including in particular its claims concerning the 'nine-dash line', are well-founded in fact and law," the DFA chief added.

Del Rosario added that the Philippines has gained support from the international community.

"We are, indeed, pleased with the community of responsible nations for supporting the rule of law," Del Rosario said.

The DFA chief is confident that the Tribunal will favor the Philippines' position against  the nine-dash line as international law is on the country's side.

Oral hearings are scheduled mid-July this year while the concluding Award is expected to be served six months after.

The Philippines earlier protested to Beijing after a Chinese vessel allegedly rammed and damaged Philippine fishing boats at the disputed Bajo de Masinloc or Scarborough Shoal.

The country also protested the massive reclamation activities of China in the South China Sea.

RELATED: Philippines protests Chinese ramming of 3 fishing boats | China's latest expansion to deny Philippines' access to Ayungin

CHINA CODE OF CONDUCT DEL ROSARIO DEPARTMENT OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS LAST JANUARY PHILIPPINES PHILIPPINES AND CHINA SCARBOROUGH SHOAL SECRETARY ALBERT DEL ROSARIO SOUTH CHINA SEA
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