Palace welcomes Asean’s move to settle sea rows-A A +A
Saturday, July 21, 2012
MANILA -- Malacañang welcomed on Saturday the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) six-point joint statement to resolve the territorial rift between the Philippines and China over the Scarborough shoal.
"It's (issuance of a joint statement) a way of moving forward. At least every one of us agreed unlike what happened in Cambodia," Presidential spokesperson Edwin Lacierda said in a radio interview over dzRB Radyo ng Bayan.
China, on the other hand, pledged on Friday to make joint efforts with Asean to safeguard regional peace and stability after the 10-member bloc issued a six-point statement on the South China Sea.
"The Chinese side is willing to work together with the Asean members to implement the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea (DOC) comprehensively and effectively," Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei said in response to a question on the Asean statement.
The Asean six-point principles include the following:
* to implement fully the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea or DOC;
* support for the guidelines of the DOC;
* conclude early a regional code of conduct on the South China Sea;
* fully respect universally-recognized principles of international law including the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea;
* continue exercising self-restraint and non-use of force; and
* the peaceful resolution of conflicts in accordance with universally-recognized principles of international law and including the 1982 United Nations Convention of the Law of the Sea (Unclos).
China claims the West Philippine Sea nearly in its entirety, while Taiwan is also pursuing its own claim. Asean member countries seeking ownership over the disputed territory include the Philippines, Brunei, Vietnam and Malaysia.
Qu Xing, head of the China Institute of International Studies, told Xinhua, the official press agency of the People's Republic of China, that it was Vietnam and the Philippines that should be blamed for the failure to pass a communiqué last week.
"The two countries attempted to turn the disputes between them and China into a problem between China and Asean as a whole," he said, "which was unacceptable for the other the other members of the bloc."
Lacierda in response of Qu’s statement said both countries can’t be blamed for what happened in Cambodia during the Asean foreign ministers’ meeting.
The Philippines has the right to raise the West Philippine Sea issue during the Phnom Penh meeting because the regional grouping isn’t confined to discussing regional issues and could also talk about bilateral issues, Lacierda said.
“This is the first time that there was a bilateral dispute na hindi na-raise. So we made a case that it was not the fault of the Philippines that there was no joint communiqué that was issued,” he said.
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei said the core problem of the South China Sea was the disputes over the sovereignty of the Nansha (Spratly) islands and the demarcation of the islands' adjacent waters.
"China has sufficient historical and jurisprudential evidence for its sovereignty over the Nansha islands and the adjacent waters," Hong added.
However, Hong said China is open to consultations with the Asean on the conclusion of a Code of Conduct in the South China Sea.
"(We) hope that all the parties will strictly abide by the DOC and create necessary conditions and atmosphere for the consultations," he said.
As a signatory to the Unclos, China attaches importance to safeguarding the principles and mission of the Convention, said the spokesman.
Hong said Unclos is aimed to establish a legal order for the seas and oceans "with due regard for the sovereignty of all States," and it does neither serve as an international treaty to address disputes over territorial sovereignty between states nor as evidence used to judge over the disputes.
The countries concerned should address the disputes over the maritime demarcation in the South China Sea, after the land disputes have been resolved, in accordance with historical facts and all international laws including Unclos, he added.
"China attaches importance to its ties with the Asean," Hong said, adding the country is committed to promoting friendly neighborhood and reciprocal cooperation with the Asean to push ahead with the cooperation in East Asia with joint efforts.
The spokesman said China and Asean share common interests and responsibilities in keeping Asia's development and maintaining regional peace and stability against the backdrop of the ongoing international financial crisis.
"The two sides should continue to promote their strategic communication in pursuit of a reciprocal and win-win situation, with mutual respect and trust in mind as well as handle the relationship between the two sides from strategic and long-term perspective," he added.
Meanwhile, Lacierda hailed Indonesian Foreign Minister Marty Natalegawa for his efforts to coordinate with the 10-Asean member countries to come up with the six-point joint statement.
Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario and Indonesian Foreign Minister Marty Natalegawa discussed the six-point principles when the Indonesian official visited Manila this week to fix differences among Asean members on the territorial dispute with China. (SDR/PNA/Sunnex)