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FACT CHECK: No categorical statement from China recognizing PH claims


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FACT CHECK: No categorical statement from China recognizing PH claims
The video only highlights former Supreme Court justice Antonio Carpio’s comments that China inadvertently acknowledged Manila’s claim in the West Philippine Sea by citing the Treaty of Washington

Claim: China recognizes the Philippines’ territorial claims in the West Philippine Sea. 

Rating: FALSE

Why we fact-checked this: The YouTube video bearing the claim has 62,348 views and 393 comments as of writing. It was posted on June 7, 2024, by a channel with 3,030 subscribers.

In its thumbnail, headline, and description, the YouTube video asserts that China “recognizes,” “admitted,” and “acknowledged” the Philippines’ claim in the West Philippine Sea. The video states in the description that this is a “significant and crucial” development in the ongoing dispute between Manila and Beijing. 

The video contains snippets of a June 6 interview of former Supreme Court associate justice Antonio Carpio with One News. In the interview, Carpio said President Ferdinand Marcos Jr.’s recognition of the 1898 Treaty of Paris and the 1900 Treaty of Washington in his keynote address at the Shangri-La Dialogue in Singapore in May bolsters the country’s narratives for its West Philippine Sea claims.

The facts: China has not made any categorical statements recognizing the Philippines’ claims in the West Philippine Sea. The video only featured Carpio’s view that China may have inadvertently supported Manila’s claims when it cited the Treaty of Washington during the arbitration proceedings initiated by the Philippines in 2013. The former Supreme Court justice has previously written about his legal takes on the Philippines’ sovereignty claims. (READ: The most complicated dispute in the world)

Since the Hague ruled in favor of Manila in 2016, China has continued to assert its claims over the entire South China Sea, rejecting the ruling and ignoring Manila’s diplomatic protests. 

In a statement on June 6, China again called the arbitral ruling “illegal, null and void,” adding: “China neither accepts nor participates in that arbitration, neither accepts nor recognizes the award, and will never accept any claim or action arising from the award.” 

‘Judicial admission’: Although it did not participate in the arbitration proceedings, China submitted a position paper in 2014, saying that the Philippine territory was bound by the Treaty of Paris and the Treaty of Washington. 

Spain ceded the Philippines to the US through the 1898 Treaty of Paris, which also defined Philippine territory. The 1900 Treaty of Washington, meanwhile, clarified that this territory includes “all islands of the Philippine archipelago lying outside the lines” of the Treaty of Paris.


In the One News interview, Carpio said China’s mention of the Treaty of Washington in its position paper is a “judicial admission.”

“They mentioned the Treaty of Washington. They are bound by the Treaty of Washington… They didn’t read the text,” Carpio said.

He added, China is bound because China submitted this judicial admission to the Hague arbitral tribunal. China submitted an official document saying that Philippine territory is governed also by the Treaty of Washington. That’s the highest form of admission. A judicial admission is the highest form of admission under the law.”

PH narrative: The former justice welcomed Marcos’ comments during the Shangri-La Dialogue in Singapore on May 31, where he cited the Treaty of Washington and called out China’s actions as “illegal, coercive, and aggressive.”

Tensions have further escalated in the South China Sea in recent months, with Beijing increasing the number of vessels venturing into the Philippines’ exclusive economic zone and ramping up its aggressive actions. China has recently begun to implement trespass rules granting its coast guard the power to detain suspected trespassers without trial for 60 days. (READ: [EXPLAINER] South China Sea: Why are China and Philippines tensions heating up?) – Luis Garcia/Rappler.com

Luis Garcia is a research volunteer at Rappler. He is an incoming fourth-year BS Economics student at the University of the Philippines Diliman. 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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