Philippines protests China's self-declared South China Sea districts, naming of Kalayaan features

Patricia Lourdes Viray - Philstar.com
Philippines protests China's self-declared South China Sea districts, naming of Kalayaan features
This Jan. 1, 2018 satellite image shows China's installations on Fiery Cross or Kagitingan Reef in the West Philippine Sea.
CSIS / AMTI via DigitalGlobe

MANILA, Philippines — The Philippine government opposed China's latest moves in the South China Sea while the rest of the world is preoccupied with the deadly COVID-19, which first emerged from Wuhan City late last year.

The Department of Foreign Affairs on Thursday said the government "strongly protests" China's establishment of two districts in the South China Sea.

Earlier this month, Beijing established the districts of Nansha (Spratly Islands) and Xisha (Paracel Islands), which would be under the administrative jurisdiction of its self-declared Sansha City.

The DFA said the Philippine government does not recognize Sansha City, nor its constituent units, as it overlaps with the country's maritime claims in the West Philippine Sea.

"The Philippine government has protested since 2012 China’s unlawful establishment of Sansha City and the extent of its administrative jurisdiction, which encompasses Philippine territory and maritime zones in the West Philippine Sea," the DFA said in a statement.

Beijing's establishment of the two new districts in the South China Sea violate Philippine territorial sovereignty over the Kalayaan Island Group (KIG) and Bajo de Masinloc or Scarborough Shoal, the DFA said.

China's latest actions in the contested waterway also infringes on the country's sovereign rights over the waters and continental shelf in the West Philippine Sea, the statement read.

"The unanimous Award issued by the Tribunal constituted under Annex VII to the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) in the arbitration instituted by the Philippines has comprehensively addressed China’s excessive claims and illegal actions in the South China Sea," the DFA said.

The Philippines does not also recognize China's naming of some features in the KIG, which falls under the jurisdiction of Palawan province.

Pointing out that Kagitingan (Fiery Cross) Reef is within the LIG and an integral part of Philippine territory, the DFA also protested the designation of the reef as administrative center for the so-called Nansha district.

Kagitingan Reef is one of China's three artificial islands in the West Philippine Sea, where it had installed surface-to-air missiles and radio jamming equipment in recent years.

"The Philippines calls on China to adhere to international law, including the UNCLOS, as well as to the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea, specifically Paragraph 5 thereof, under which parties undertake to exercise self-restraint in the conduct of activities that would complicate or escalate disputes and affect peace and stability," the statement read.

Just last week, Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. confirmed that two diplomatic protests were filed at the Chinese Embassy over "the pointing of a radar gun at a Philippine Navy ship in [Philippine] waters" and "declaring parts of Philippine territory as part of Hainan province."

The country's top diplomat said both moves from Beijing constitute "violations of international law and Philippine sovereignty."

In February, a Chinese navy vessel pointed its radar gun to a Philippine Navy ship near the Malampaya gas field in the West Philippine Sea.

Vice Admiral Rene Medina, commander of the military's Western Command, confirmed this incident which was reported to the commanding officer of BRP Conrado Yap.

The Philippine Navy's BRP Conrado Yap sailed out of Puerto Princesa City on February 15 to patrol the Malampaya gas field and the Kalayaan Islands Group in the West Philippine Sea.

On February 17, the Philippine Navy ship detected a radar contact of a vessel while sailing to Rizal Reef.

The Conrado Yap issued a radio warning to the Chinese navy ship but the latter responded that "the Chinese government has indisputable sovereignty over the South China Sea, its islands and its adjacent waters." — with report from Roel Pareño






As It Happens
LATEST UPDATE: February 28, 2022 - 10:29am

The United States Navy's Nimitz-class nuclear powered supercarrier USS John C. Stennis continues underway in the South China Sea.

The US Pacific Command just reported that it has received "cargo" from support ship USNS Rainier in the disputed waters.

February 28, 2022 - 10:29am

Around 68 foreign vessels were near Julian Felipe Reef and 39 near Union Banks on February 17, satellite image show.

Liz Derr, CEO of the geospatial data provider Simularity, says this at a Stratebase ADR-hosted conference.

In March 2021, over 200 Chinese vessels were sighted near the reef.  — report from News5/Marianne Enriquez

November 22, 2021 - 3:54pm

President Rodrigo Duterte condemns the latest flare-up in the disputed South China Sea after Chinese coastguard ships fired water cannon at Filipino boats. 

"We abhor the recent event in the Ayungin Shoal and view with grave concern other similar developments," Duterte tells the meeting of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations and China, using the Filipino name for the shoal. 

"This does not speak well of the relations between our nations and our partnership." — AFP

November 22, 2021 - 8:41am

The European Union expresses "strong opposition" against China's unilateral actions in the South China Sea, including the West Philippine Sea.

This statement comes after Chinese coast guard ships blocked and water cannoned Philippine boats transporting supplies to military personnel stationed at Ayungin (Second Thomas) Shoal.

"In this context, the European Union recalls the Arbitration Award rendered under UNCLOS on 12 July 2016, which found that Second Thomas Shoal lies within the Philippines’ exclusive economic zone and continental shelf," the EU says in a statement.

July 14, 2021 - 8:49am

Geospatial imagery and analysis firm Simularity stands behind its report on ships dumping raw sewage in the West Philippine Sea, adding a stock photo used in its presentation was not used in its analysis.

"We welcome the news that Philippine agencies are validating our research and results. It is all reproducible, based on publicly available sources, well understood algorithms, and the approach and interpretation are validated by readily available scientific papers, links to which you can find in our report," it says.

July 13, 2021 - 2:44pm

The Department of Environemnt and Natural Resources says it will coordinate with the Philippine Coast Guard and the Department of National Defense "on the authenticity of the allegation" that Chinese ships have been dumping raw waste in areas of the West Philippine Sea, which satellite imaging firm Simularity said has been causing damage to coral reefs in the Spratlys.

"After that, we will be seeking for the attention of the Chinese government through our Department of Foreign Affairs," Undersecretary Benny Antiporda, DENR spokesperson, says.

"We will also validate if indeed these are Chinese vessels," he also says.

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