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China has no valid claim, PH tells regional forum


BALI, Indonesia – The Philippines assailed China on July 23, 2011 for its “baseless claim” of ownership over South China sea, parts of which are also being claimed by Manila.

China’s 9-dash claim over the whole South China Sea, which includes the oil-rich Spratlys Island, has “no validity under international law,” Philippine Foreign Affairs Secretary Secretary Albert Del Rosario emphasized before the 18th Asean Regional Forum (ARF), which is attended by 27 countries including the US.

He complained that the Philippines has “suffered at least seven aggressive intrusions” in West Philippines Sea (Manila’s name for South China Sea) from China since February this year.

Del Rosario said that China refused to be held accountable for these incursions as it invoked its 9-dash claim over one of the world’s major sea lanes. “If the Philippine sovereign rights can be denigrated by this baseless claim, many countries should begin to contemplate the potential threat to freedom of navigation in the South China Sea,” he stressed.

Aside from the

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Philippines and China, four other countries are claimants to parts of the South China Sea—Taiwan and Asean members Malaysia, Vietnam and Brunei. The South China sea however straddles busy shipping lanes, which are traversed by vessels from the United States, Japan and Australia, among others.

Hillary’s message

Meanwhile, sources said that even as US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton praised China and Asean for adopting guidelines on the peaceful resolution of the maritime dispute, she called for the claimants to “clarify” what they actually own in the South China Sea under international law.

On the other hand, Indonesian Foreign Minister Marty Natalegawa affirmed that “countries have been asking of the same justification of the claim of others.”

He added that even with the adoption of the guidelines of the Declaration of Conduct of Parties in South China Sea, the resolution of the dispute would still depend on the actions of the claimants.

“It’s impossible for a forum like the Asean regional forum to solve a problem like this overnight…that will take elsewhere, including bilateral or trilateral meetings,” he said.

China prefers the former route, as it told the US to stay out of the maritime dispute in a bilateral meeting on July 22. “The Chinese side raised its own concerns, which is that it is important to respect the sovereignty and territorial integrity of China,” Chinese spokesman Liu Weiming said.

Del Rosario told reporters at the closing ceremony of the 44th Asean Ministerial Meeting on July 23 that China stood by this line during the ARF, while the US pushed for the conflict to be resolved multilaterally.

The Philippines also reiterated during the ARF that the disputed waters should be segregated from the non-disputed areas in South China Sea. The Philippines proposed to have an Asean- China Zone of Peace, Freedom, Friendship and Cooperation in the West Philippine Sea where the disputed areas of Spratlys Island and Paracel Islands would be segregated from the waters and continental shelves that are beyond it.

The disputed parts would be “enclaved” and designated as a Joint Cooperation Area, which would be overseen and managed by a Joint Permanent Working Committee composed of claimants from Asean.

Satoru Sato, Japan’s foreign ministry spokesman, said they welcome Manila’s proposal because it is “rules-based,”

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but added that it must be “studied further.”

As the ARF came to a close, Indonesia, which chairs the Asean, called on “all parties concerned to demonstrate friendly and cooperative undertakings by continuing to exercise self-restraint.”

Koreas meet

Meanwhile, in one of the most significant side events in the Asean ministerial meetings, South Korean Foreign Minister Kim Sung-hwan met North Korean foreign minister Pak Ui-chun just before the ARF. The meeting came a day after principal nuclear negotiatiors from the two countries talked for the first time three years after the six-party talks on Pyongyang’s nuclear disarmament collapsed.

South Korea’s chief negotiator Wi Sung-Lac and his North Korean counterpart Ri Yong-Ho held a dialogue on July 22, where both agreed to explore the resumption of the six-party talks with the United States, Russia, China and Japan. Ri came out first of the closed-door meeting and told reporters that they have agreed to “make joint efforts” to go back to the six-party talks. Wi

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faced the media after and echoed Ri’s statement.

The six-party talks was launched in 2003 to explore political and economic fronts in persuading North Korea to abandon its nuclear ambitions. In 2007, Pyongyang agreed to disable its nuclear reactor in Yongbyon in exchange for 100,000 metric tons of oil from South Korea.

However, the talks hit a standstill in December 2008 after North Korea thumbed down a demand from the US to have nuclear inspectors take samples from its facilities.

Even with the development in this year’s Asean meetings, however, North Korea stood its ground and defended its uranium enrichment activities before the ARF on July 23.

“The ministers… called on the DPRK (Democratic People’s Republic of Korea) to fully comply with its international obligations and commitments, abandoning all existing nuclear programs” the Chair’s (Indonesia’s) statement on the ARF said. The DPRK, as specified in the statement, “responded that their uranium enrichment activities are an exercise of its legitimate right of a sovereign state for peaceful purposes.”—Newsbreak


CATEGORY: Defense & Security
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  1. Damn the Chinese.. Trying to flex its giant political muscles against the Asean Midgets. Pick a size of your own chink! Leave us alone.

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