Agence France Presse
Published — Tuesday 22 January 2013
Last update 23 January 2013 12:45 am
MANILA: The Philippines has taken China to a UN tribunal to challenge its claim to most of the South China Sea including Philippine territory, Foreign Secretary Albert del Rosario said on Tuesday.
“The Philippines has exhausted almost all political and diplomatic avenues for a peaceful negotiated settlement of its maritime dispute with China... we hope that the arbitral proceedings shall bring this dispute to a durable solution,” he told a news conference.
Del Rosario said Manila had told Beijing’s ambassador about the decision to take China to an arbitration tribunal under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, a 1982 treaty signed by both countries.
The Philippines in its submission says Beijing’s so-called “nine-dash line” outlining its territorial claims over most of the sea, including waters and islands close to its neighbors, is illegal, according to del Rosario.
It also demands that China “desist from unlawful activities that violate the sovereign rights and jurisdiction of the Philippines under the 1982 UNCLOS,” he added.
China’s territorial claims overlap those of the Philippines as well as Brunei, Malaysia, Vietnam and Taiwan.
Over the past two years the Philippines and Vietnam have complained at China’s increasing assertiveness in enforcing those claims, particularly around areas believed rich in oil and natural gas reserves.
Manila says the Chinese stance led to a standoff last year with the Philippines over rich fishing grounds around the Scarborough Shoal, a formation much closer to the Philippine coast than to China’s shores.
“On numerous occasions dating back to 1995 the Philippines has been exchanging views with China to peacefully settle these disputes. To this day a solution is still elusive,” del Rosario said.