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China warns PH on Asean

Threatens  ‘COUNTERSTRIKE’ China’s warning of a potential”counterstrike” against the Philippines is a provocative statement that has “no place in the relations of civilized nations,” the Department of Foreign Affairs said on Saturday. China  has an obligation under international law, specifically the United Nations Charter “to pursue a peaceful resolution of disputes—meaning without the use of force [or] the threat to use forces,” DFA spokesman Raul  Hernandez said. The People’s Daily, the mouthpiece of  China’s ruling Communist Party, accused the Philippines of using the ASEAN group as an “accomplice” in the violation of its sovereignty claims in the South China Sea on Saturday, and warned of a potential “counterstrike”. The editorial in the overseas edition of the People’s Daily came as the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) was due to meet in Brunei, with disputes in the Sea expected to dominate discussions. The Philippines, which has sought closer ties with Washington amid territorial disputes with Beijing, “calls on the United States as ‘patron’” and uses ASEAN as an “accomplice,” the editorial said. China’s state media also said in a front-page commentary that the Philippines had committed “seven sins” in the West Philippine Sea, including the “illegal occupation” of the Spratly Islands, inviting foreign capital to engage in oil and gas development in the disputed waters and promoting the “internationalization” of the waters. It issued the statement  after Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin confirmed on Thursday of a plan to give the United States and its allies like Japan access to military bases in the Philippines. President Aquino’s spokesmen said however the plan is not yet final as the Department of National Defense is still studying it to make sure it will be done in accordance with the 1987 Constitution and the 1999 Visiting Forces Agreement. Hernandez called on China “to be a responsible member in the community of nations” and resolve territorial disputes in the West Philippine Sea through the “rules-based, transparent, binding and non-provocative” mechanism of the UN Charter. The DFA   cited Part XV of the UN Convention of the Law of the Sea, which provides that “State Parties shall settle any dispute between them” by peaceful means. “A peaceful and rules-based resolution to the disputes in the West Philippine Sea is durable and beneficial to all and will ensure peace and stability in the region,” Hernandez said. China has resisted Asean efforts to create a legally binding code to govern conduct on the sea and analysts said Beijing will continue to oppoose nay agreement weaking its claims. The People’s Daily commentary is not the first time this week that China issued a statement regarding territorial disputes in the West Philippine Sea. China’s Foreign Minister Wang Yi warned Thursday that countries with territorial claims in the South China Sea that look for help from third parties will find their efforts “futile” and that confrontation over the area is “doomed.” Wang’s speech at the Tsinghua World Peace Forum coincided with the start of the US-Philippines naval forces’ military exercises off Luzon’s west coast. Members of the ASEAN group hope to reach a legally binding code of conduct aimed at easing tensions over disputed areas in the Sea, which is claimed almost in its entirety by Beijing, leading to long-running disputes with several neighbouring countries including the Philippines. The Philippines this year sought UN arbitration over its dispute with China, a move condemned by Beijing. A US destroyer joined the Philippine Navy’s flagship this week for military exercises close to the Scarborough Shoal, which China insists it owns. Countries around the region have boosted spending on their navies in recent years in response to tensions, raising fears of a military conflict. With AFP
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