China warns Military upgrade of the Philippines as - claims threaten the SEA access

The Philippines’ Government warned on August 4, 2011 that China’s extended claim over the disputed West Philippine Sea threatens free access in the disputed territory, a Cabinet official said, while calling the act arbitrary and illegal.

“If left unchallenged, China’s baseless 9-dash line claim over the entire West Philippine Sea would not only adversely affect our sovereign rights and jurisdiction but could as well potentially threaten the freedom of navigation and unimpeded commerce of many other nations,” Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert F. del Rosario said in a forum at the Ateneo de Manila University.

He further noted that there was no basis for Beijing claim that was submitted to the United Nations two years ago.

“The Philippines contends that the 9-dash claim of China is, to put it plainly, illegal. It is arbitrary and bereft of any basis or validity under international law, specifically the UNCLOS (United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea),” Mr. del Rosario said.

A statement from the Department of Foreign Affairs explained that the 9-dash line, also known as the 9-dotted line or the “ox tongue” line, represents the nine dashes that mark China’s claim to the entire West Philippine Seabased on submissions to the UN on May 7, 2009.

Mr. del Rosario noted that China’s intrusion was within 85 nautical miles from the nearest Philippine island of Palawan, well within our country’s 200-nautical mile Exclusive Economic Zone, and where the Philippines exercises full sovereign rights, as provided by UNLCOS.

Tension between China and the Philippines escalated after it was it was reported that from February to May that the Chinese Navy allegedly opened fire on Filipino fishermen, intimidated a Philippine oil exploration ship and put posts and a buoy in Philippine-claimed areas in the Spratly Islands.

The area is also claimed in whole or in part by Brunei, Malaysia, Taiwan and Vietnam.

Also on Friday, a strongly worded editorial in the China Daily warned the Philippines against the construction of military structures in the Spratlys.

Amid the tension, Mr. del Rosario said a “cooperative framework for managing the disputes” is being crafted by Association of Southeast Asian Nation (ASEAN) maritime legal experts.

They experts are set to meet in September in Manila to discuss the framework, which is based on the Philippine’s proposed ASEAN Zone of Peace, Freedom, Friendship and Cooperation, or (ZoPFFC).

Under the ZoPFFC, the Philippines proposes that the disputed relevant features in the West Philippine Sea be separated from the undisputed areas in accordance with international law, specifically the UNCLOS. The undisputed areas could be transformed into areas for joint cooperation and development.

China media warns Manila on military in Spratlys

BEIJING - CHINESE media on Friday warned the Philippines against building up its military presence in disputed areas of the South China Sea, amid a deepening rift between the two countries.

A strongly worded editorial in the China Daily accused Manila of infringing 'China's territorial integrity' and said the Philippines could pay 'a high price' for misjudging the issue. The Philippines was 'not taking seriously' an agreement struck by Beijing and Association of South-east Asian Nations members in Indonesia last month 'to solve the maritime disputes in peace', the English language newspaper said.

The editorial came after a weekend Philippine Star newspaper report that the Philippine navy would soon complete a shelter to 'protect troops guarding and securing the country's maritime domain' on an island claimed by both countries.

The shell-like structure the navy began building in May is on an island called Patag by the Philippines and Feixin by China - part of the Spratlys chain which is also wholly or partially claimed by Vietnam, Brunei, Malaysia and Taiwan.

Tensions in the decades-old dispute escalated this year amid accusations from the Philippines and Vietnam that China was becoming increasingly aggressive in staking its claims to the sea, which the Philippines calls the West Philippine Sea. Manila has accused Chinese forces of harassing an oil exploration vessel and shooting at Filipino fishermen.

The Philippine navy is awaiting the arrival of a newly-purchased US-built coast guard ship the Star said would be used to 'secure natural resources' - which the China Daily said have been tapped in 'illegal' projects.

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