File photo by Jay Directo/AFP
MANILA, Philippines – China ignored a new deadline to submit counterarguments against the Philippines in a historic case over the disputed West Philippine Sea (South China Sea), Manila said Wednesday, June 17.
In a media briefing, Philippine Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) spokesman Charles Jose pointed out that China had until Tuesday, June 16, to file its rebuttal against the Philippines.
"Wala rin naman silang sinubmit (They didn't submit anything)," Jose said.
Rappler is still verifying this with the Chinese Embassy in the Philippines as of posting time.
The June 16 deadline was meant to allow China to respond to the Philippines' additional arguments before an arbitral tribunal at the Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) based in The Hague, The Netherlands.
The Philippines submitted these additional arguments – its 3,000-page supplemental written submission – on March 16. This document added to Manila's 4,000-page pleading against Beijing on March 30, 2014.
The arbitral tribunal also allowed China to respond to the Philippines' March 2014 pleading, but China missed its deadline on December 15, 2014.
'Serious concern' over reclamation
After these submissions, the arbitral tribunal is set to hear the Philippines' oral arguments at The Hague from July 7 to 13.
The Philippines believes the case will provide a long-lasting solution to the maritime row.
China has consistently rejected the Philippines' case.
Instead it pushes for bilateral or one-on-one talks between countries involved, and rejects third-party or multilateral involvement in the sea dispute.
At the same time, China is also building artificial islands in the disputed waters – a move that the Philippines links to the arbitration proceedings.
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang said the main purpose of these reclamation activities "is to meet various civilian demands and better perform China's international obligations and responsibilities" in various areas. It will also help China achieve the "necessary military defense."
He said said these activities "are purely intended to change the character and the status of features in the South China Sea/West Philippine Sea," and to prejudice the Philippines' arbitration case against China. – Rappler.com
Paterno R. Esmaquel II is a senior reporter leading Rappler’s coverage of religion and foreign affairs. He finished MA Journalism in Ateneo and MSc Asian Studies (Religions in Plural Societies) at RSIS, Singapore. For story ideas or feedback, email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.