China urges Philippines to stop 'provocations' in West Philippine Sea
This satellite photo shows the damage on coral reefs in the Scarborough Shoal due to Chinese fishermen's harvesting of giant clams.
AMTI, file

China urges Philippines to stop 'provocations' in West Philippine Sea

(Philstar.com) - August 23, 2020 - 11:33am

MANILA, Philippines — Beijing has accused the Philippines of infringing on its security and sovereignty by sending military aircraft over the West Philippine Sea, the portion of the South China Sea within the Philippines' exclusive economic zone.

China’s foreign ministry spokesperson Zhao Li Jian issued this statement at a press briefing in response to Manila’s diplomatic protest over the Chinese Coast Guard allegedly confiscating Filipino fishermen’s fish aggregating devices in the area.

"China urges the Philippines to immediately stop illegal provocative activities," he said. “The Philippines infringes on China’s sovereignty and security by sending military aircraft into air space adjacent to Nansha islands and reefs garrisoned by China."

The Permanent Court of Arbitration ruled in 2016 that China's sweeping "nine-dash-line" claim over most of the South China Sea has no basis in international law. Beijing, however, has refused to acknowledge the award and did not participate in the arbitration case.

The Duterte administration has stressed that the West Philippine Sea issue is better settled through dialogue and diplomacy and has fostered warmer ties with China as part of a pivot to a new  "independent foreign policy."

China's foreign ministry also stressed that the Chinese coast guard’s activity in the sea as being "in accordance to the law." 

The Department of Foreign Affairs, in its protest, said that "the Philippines also resolutely objected to China’s continuing illicit issuances of radio challenges [to] Philippine aircraft conducting legitimate regular maritime patrols in the West Philippine Sea."

President Rodrigo Duterte, in his fifth State of the Nation Address, stressed that pushing the maritime dispute would mean going to war with China. Critics of the policy, including former Supreme Court Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio, have said the Philippines can insist on the 2016 award without going to war. Among the proposed approaches is seeking international support for the Philippines' position.

RELATED: 'China has the arms. We do not have it,' Duterte says on West Philippine Sea

Franco Luna  


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