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FACT CHECK: China has not given up West Philippine Sea claims


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FACT CHECK: China has not given up West Philippine Sea claims
China has not said it is ceding its claim over the West Philippine Sea. Talks on ways to ease maritime tensions between the Philippines and China are ongoing.

Claim: China has given up its sovereign claim over the West Philippine Sea.

Rating: FALSE

Why we fact-checked this: As of writing, the YouTube video bearing the claim has gained 77,788 views, 2,300 likes, and 660 comments. 

The video’s thumbnail and title bears the claim: “China sinuko na West Philippine Sea.” (China has surrendered the West Philippine Sea.) 

The video’s narrator claims that China relinquished its claim following the meeting between Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. and Chinese President Xi Jinping on the sidelines of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Summit in San Francisco, USA.

The bottom line: China has not said that it has surrendered its claim over the West Philippine Sea, or parts of the South China Sea within the Philippines’ exclusive economic zone (EEZ).

The misleading video uses clips from Xi’s remarks on November 15 where he talked about China-US relations. In his speech, Xi said that China “will never pursue hegemony or expansion, and will never impose its will on others.” However, the West Philippine Sea issue was not mentioned in the speech.

Xi and Marcos met on November 18 to discuss ways to ease tensions between the Philippines and China in the South China Sea. Confrontations between the two countries have escalated in recent months: in August, a Chinese coast guard ship fired water cannons at Philippine vessels, and harassed Philippine ships during a resupply mission. Last month, a collision occurred between vessels of the two countries near Ayungin Shoal.

Speaking about his meeting with Xi, Marcos said they “tried to come up with mechanisms to lower the tensions in the South China Sea.”

“That’s essentially the message that we spoke of to each other, that we were in agreement that the problems that we have in South China Sea, with China, should not be the defining element of our relationship,” Marcos said. “But nonetheless, the problems remain and it is something that we will need to continue to communicate to find ways to avoid such incidents,” he added.

Philippine Ambassador to the United States Jose Manuel Romualdez told CNN Philippines that the Chinese president wanted to “keep talking” and to “have our militaries to resolve these things in the West Philippine Sea.”

Maritime claims: China claims the entire South China Sea, including the West Philippine Sea which is part of the Philippines’ EEZ, as upheld by the landmark 2016 Hague ruling in favor of Manila. 

In September, China released a new “standard map” that features a 10-dash line encompassing the entire South China Sea. The Philippines has rejected the map as having no basis under international law and called it the “latest attempt to legitimize China’s purported sovereignty and jurisdiction over Philippine features and maritime zones.” Andrei Santos/Rappler.com

Andrei Santos is a graduate of Rappler’s fact-checking mentorship program. This fact check was reviewed by a member of Rappler’s research team and a senior editor. Learn more about Rappler’s fact-checking mentorship program here.

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