China: Unclos not legal basis to resolve sea row-A A +A
Friday, July 27, 2012
A CHINESE Foreign Ministry official said the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (Unclos) is not the legal basis to determine the territorial sovereignty of the Scarborough (Panatag) Shoal.
In a statement released earlier this week, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei said "the facts and truths" about the Scarborough Shoal incident in April "have been clear" from the start.
"The UN Convention on the Law of the Sea is not the legal basis to determine the territorial sovereignty of the Huangyan Island and cannot change the fact that the island belongs to China," Hong said, referring to the UN convention that provided for the 200-nautical mile Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) that the Philippines is proposing to be used to resolve the territorial sovereignty issue of the shoal.
The EEZ states that a country has the right to explore the marine resources of up to 200-nautical miles seaward of its territorial sea.
Panatag Shoal or Bajo de Masinloc sits well within the country's EEZ since it is just located 124 nautical miles away from the Masinloc municipality in Zambales province.
In his third State of the Nation Address, President Benigno Aquino III reiterated that "Chinese fishermen entered our territory."
"We demonstrated utmost forbearance in dealing with this issue. We chose not to respond to their media's harangues. I do not think it’s excessive to ask that our rights be respected, just as we respect their rights as a fellow nation in a world we need to share," the President had said.
But China, unlike the Philippines, is resolved to settle the issue through bilateral means, as evident by Hong's statement.
"Resolute in safeguarding its territorial sovereignty, China is also committed to handling the incident through bilateral consultation," he said.
The Philippine government has invited China into a multilateral negotiation with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean), which Manila is a member of.
But Beijing was adamant that it will only settle the issue through bilateral consultations with claimant-countries China, Taiwan, Vietnam, Malaysia and Brunei Darussalam.
"The situation off the Huangyan Island tends to relax on the whole. We hope the Philippine side can do more for further relaxation of the situation and sound development of bilateral relations," Hong said.
Tensions have risen in the disputed island since early April this year where a standoff took place between the countries until about mid-June.
The standoff started when Philippines officials were prevented to arrest Chinese fishermen who were caught illegally poaching in the area.
Just when the situation at the shoal, which China calls Huangyan Island and the Philippines refer to as Bajo de Masinloc, is starting to ease, China establishes Sansha city that will supposedly administer the highly disputed Spratly Islands, Paracel Islands, Macclesfield Bank and Scarborough Shoal in the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea).
The Philippines filed a diplomatic protest on the establishment of Sansha City, but China earlier this week announced that it will send a military garrison to the newly built city. (CVB/Sunnex)