Friday, August 12, 2016

Philippines urges China: 'Uncompromisingly' respect rule of law

InterAksyon.com
The online news portal of TV5
MANILA - Philippine Foreign Secretary Perfecto Yasay on Thursday called on China to respect maritime law and security as well as the rule of law, to resolve disputes in both the South China Sea and the East China Sea.

Yasay met his Japanese counterpart, Fumio Kishida, in the Philippines to discuss regional security and cooperation on maritime security, with Japan reaffirming its help which includes vessels and aircraft.

"We ... urge China to make sure that maritime law and security must be completely and uncompromisingly respected," Yasay told a news conference, adding the Philippines and Japan shared experiences in the South China Sea and East China Sea.

China claims almost the entire South China Sea where about $5 trillion worth of trade passes every year. Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines, Taiwan and Vietnam also have claims on the sea believed to have rich deposits of oil and gas.

Japan has no claim in the South China Sea but it is in dispute with China over small islands in the East China Sea.

In the South China Sea, Chinese land reclamation and construction on contested reefs over the past year has raised alarm in the region and beyond.

The United States, its Southeast Asian allies and Japan have questioned China's activity, particularly since an international court last month rejected China's historic claims to most of the South China Sea.

China says it has "indisputable sovereignty" over the area it claims and has refused to recognize the court ruling on a case brought by the Philippines.

Japan called on China to adhere to the ruling, saying it was binding, prompting a warning from China not to interfere.

"This is not the kind of action that is mandated by international law," Yasay told the news conference, referring to what he said the Philippines and Japan saw as Chinese intimidation and provocation in connection with their disputes.

"Everyone must respect our maritime order and security in this area in the South China Sea and East China Sea and we urge them to respect the rule of law."

Japan last weekend reported a flurry of incursions by Chinese vessels into what Japan sees as its waters near the disputed East China Sea islands that it controls.

Kishida said Japan would maintain its support to the Philippines with the delivery next week of the first of 10 coastguard vessels. Japan is also leasing the Philippines four TD-90 surveillance aircraft.

"Maritime order based on the rule of law is indispensable for the region's stability and prosperity," Kishida said.

Meantime, a newly launched satellite will help China protect its maritime interests, the official China Daily newspaper reported, amid growing tensions over disputed territory in the South China Sea.

The "Gaofen 3" satellite that was launched on Wednesday has a radar system that captures images from space with a resolution down to 1 meter (3 feet) and can operate in all weathers, the State Administration of Science, Technology and Industry for National defense told the newspaper.

"The satellite will play an important role in monitoring the marine environment, islands and reefs, and ships and oil rigs," the China Daily said, citing project leader Xu Fuxiang.

"Satellites like the Gaofen 3 will be very useful in safeguarding the country's maritime rights and interests," he added, according to the newspaper.

In July, an international court in The Hague ruled against China's claims in the resource-rich South China Sea in an action brought by the Philippines, a decision stridently rejected by Beijing.

China claims most of the South China Sea, through which $5 trillion in ship-borne trade passes every year.

Vietnam, China and Taiwan claim all of the disputed Spratly islands in the South China Sea, while the Philippines, Malaysia and Brunei claim some of the area.

Reuters reported this week that Vietnam had discreetly fortified several of its islands in the South China Sea with new mobile rocket launchers.

That followed satellite photos in July that showed China appeared to have built reinforced aircraft hangars on some of the disputed islands.

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