Protests filed vs China ships in West Philippine Sea

Rappler.com
Palace official says formal protest filed against Chinese vessels sighted in West Philippine Sea last December will not affect bilateral ties between the two countries

MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Foreign Affairs filed a formal protest with its Chinese counterpart over the recent sightings of Chinese vessels in the West Philippine Sea, a disputed territory.

In a statement on Sunday, Jan 8, 2012, the Department of Foreign Affairs said it “conveyed to the Chinese Embassy’s Charge d’affaires its serious concerns over recent actions of the People’s Republic of China in the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea) on 5 January 2012.”

The foreign office cited reports from the Department of National Defense and the Armed Forces of the Philippines in protesting the sightings of two Chinese vessels and a People’s Liberation Army Navy ship in the vicinity of Escoda Shoal in the West Philippine Sea on December 11 and 12 respectively.

The Escoda Shoal is located 123.6 nautical miles from Palawan and is part of the territorial claims of the Philippines in the disputed area.

Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario said that “these instrusions of the Chinese are clear violations of the 2002 ASEAN-China Declaration on the Conduct of Parties (DOC) in the South China Sea as well as the provision of the United Nations Convention of the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS).

“These intrusions of the Chinese are clear violations of the 2002 ASEAN-China Declaration on the Conduct of Parties (DOC) in the South China Sea as well as the provision of the United Nations Convention of the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS),” del Rosario said in the statement.

The Philippines and China are two of six claimants to the disputed territories in that area, the others being Brunei, Malaysia, Taiwan, and Vietnam.

Bilateral ties

Meantime, a Palace official stressed that despite the protest, bilateral ties between the Philippine government and China would not be affected.

Lodging protests is the proper mechanism employed by governments in addressing such matters, stressed Deputy Presidential Spokesperson Abigail Valte in an interview with state-run Radyo ng Bayan on Sunday, January 8.

The protest is part of the “remedies and ways to properly address these incidents through the diplomatic channels,” she stressed.

The two countries have pledged to have $60 billion in two-way trade by 2016. China, which has been flexing its muscles in the region, has overtaken other countries as the Philippines’ top trading partner, with $16,157.4 billion in shared trade, according to the 2010 national census data. – Rappler.com

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