DEFENSE Secretary Delfin Lorenzana on Monday scored Beijing for trying to undermine the arbitral ruling won by the Philippines that junked China’s nine-dash line claim over the West Philippine Sea.
“The Chinese government says it does not recognize the arbitral ruling. Neither do we recognize their so-called historic rights demarcated by their nine-dash line which the arbitral ruling says does not exist and has no historical basis,” Lorenzana told Manila Standard
“Ours of course, is the stronger claim. We have the arbitral ruling to back our claim. Theirs is just a drawing on the map that has no basis. That is why they don’t want the arbitral ruling discussed and want us to set it aside forever,” the defense chief said.
Although the country wants to treat China as an important ally, Lorenzana said the Philippines will continue to assert its rightful claims in the disputed waters.
“Our entitlement to our EEZ remains. We are not giving up our EEZ. President Rodrigo Duterte’s statements on setting aside [the arbitral ruling] means “not to discuss it yet,” he said.
“Give it to the future generation to resolve. Meantime, allow traditional fishermen, Filipinos, Vietnamese and Chinese to fish unmolested as they have done for more than a millennium,” he added.
In his New Year’s address, President Xi Jinping told its critics that it will never allow anyone to “make a great fuss” about its territorial sovereignty and maritime rights.
Beijing’s increasingly assertive moves to push its territorial claims in the disputed South China Sea, including building artificial islands, has unnerved its neighbors.
“We adhere to peaceful development, and resolutely safeguard our territorial sovereignty and maritime rights and interests,” Xi said, in comments carried by state media late on Saturday.
“Chinese people will never allow anyone to get away with making a great fuss about it,” he said, without elaborating.
Last year, the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague ruled in favor of the country in the South China Sea dispute.
Manila lodged the case in response to a four-year blockade recently lifted by China’s coastguard at the Scarborough Shoal, a prime fishing patch.
China claims most of the South China Sea. Neighbors Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines, Taiwan and Vietnam also have claims.