The Philippines has called on China to respect maritime law to settle disputes in the South China Sea and the East China Sea, almost a month after Beijing dismissed an international tribunal ruling against Chinese territorial claims in disputed areas in the South China Sea.
“We… urge China to make sure that maritime law and security must be completely and uncompromisingly respected,” said Philippine Foreign Secretary Perfecto Yasay, during a press conference with his Japanese counterpart Fumio Kishida in Davao City on the southern island of Mindanao on Thursday.
On July 12, the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague ruled that China’s claims to nearly all of the South China Sea “had no legal basis.” The case had been brought by the Philippines.
Beijing, however, rejected the verdict, saying it has “indisputable sovereignty” over the strategically-vital South China Sea. Additionally, China is said to be engaged in an intensive program of island-building there, which the tribunal said had caused “permanent irreparable harm to the coral reef ecosystem.”
The Chinese government views the verdict as an attempt to strip China of its historic sovereignty and maritime rights, arguing that the tribunal has no jurisdiction over the issue.
“The islands in the South China Sea have been Chinese territories since ancient times. China opposes and will never accept any claim or action based on these awards,” Chinese President Xi Jinping earlier said.
Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines, Taiwan and Vietnam also have overlapping claims in the resource-rich sea.
China also claims the uninhabited East China Sea islets known as Senkaku in Japan and Diaoyu in China, and occasionally sends coastguard vessels close to them, a move that angers Tokyo.
The dispute has at times drawn in trans-regional countries, particularly the US.
China accuses the US of interfering in the regional issues and deliberately stirring up tensions in the South China Sea. Washington, in turn, accuses Beijing of carrying out what it calls a land reclamation program in the South China Sea by building artificial islands in the disputed areas.