News / Asia

Philippine Plan for Joint South China Sea Development Has Legal Basis

Philippine Plan for Joint South China Sea Development Has Legal Basis
Philippine Plan for Joint South China Sea Development Has Legal Basis
Simone Orendain

A two-day meeting of Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) legal experts in Manila has concluded that there is a legal basis for a proposal by the Philippines for joint economic development in disputed parts of the South China Sea. That conclusion flies in the face of China, which is not part of ASEAN and claims the entire sea.

The Philippine delegation at the ASEAN meeting submitted a plan that proposes creating what it calls a “zone of peace, freedom, friendship and cooperation” in the South China Sea. The idea is to isolate the islands that multiple countries are claiming, and jointly turn them into economically viable sites that all claimant nations can benefit from.

Apart from China and the Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei and Taiwan also have claims to the Spratly group of islands in the sea. Legal representatives from the three other claimant countries attended the two-day meeting.

Philippines Foreign Affairs Undersecretary Esteban Conejos led the delegation that presented the plan. He says the gathering strengthened the Philippines’ argument that the law is on its side.

“This meeting affirmed the importance of a rules-based approach. How do we define rules-based approach? Rules based on generally accepted principles of international law, including UNCLOS,” said Conejos.

UNCLOS, the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, gives nations exclusive rights to exploit a 200-nautical-mile perimeter beyond their coastlines. The Philippines has adopted that position in response to what it claims were at least seven intrusions by China into its waters. One of its stronger complaints concerns a February incident in which Chinese naval vessels allegedly harassed an exploration ship in the Philippines' exclusive economic zone.

China has repeatedly said there were no intrusions into Philippine waters. It claims the entire South China Sea based on ancient records and a nearly 70-year old map. The sea is believed to be rich in oil and gas deposits, has an abundance of fish and is also one of the world’s busiest sea lanes.

Chinese officials were reportedly unhappy about the legal experts meeting in Manila. Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei told reporters in Beijing Friday that the country is committed to solving the disputes through bilateral talks.

"We believe the most effective way to solve the dispute is for direct negotiations between the parties directly involved," he said. "The parties, including the Philippines, made clear pledges towards this end in the declaration made by the parties involved in the South China Sea. We hope these parties do more to contribute to regional peace and stability."

Hong is referring to a non-binding Declaration of Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea that China and the 10 ASEAN countries signed in 2002. It emphasizes peaceful and diplomatic means to resolve issues. In July, Southeast Asian and Chinese officials agreed on a set of non-binding guidelines for implementing it.

Philippine Foreign Affairs Undersecretary Conejos says the Philippines is the only ASEAN country that has submitted a proposal that will help resolve the disputes in the South China Sea.

The legal experts’ report will be submitted during the ASEAN senior officials’ meeting on October 11. The senior officials are then expected to make a recommendation regarding the proposal to the foreign ministers attending the annual ASEAN summit in November.

You May Like

Photogallery Ukraine: Russian Forces Tightening Grip on East

And new United Nations report documents human rights abuses committed by both sides in conflict More

Locust Swarms Fill Antananarivo Skies

FAO-led control efforts halted plague More

South Africa’s Plan to Move Rhinos May Not Stop Poaching

Experts say international coordination needed to follow the money trail and bring down rhino horn kingpins More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Is West Doing Enough to Tackle Islamic State?i
X
Henry Ridgwell
August 29, 2014 12:26 AM
U.S. President Barack Obama has ruled out sending ground troops to Iraq to fight militants of the so-called Islamic State, or ISIS, despite officials in Washington describing the extremist group as the biggest threat the United States has faced in years. Henry Ridgwell reports from London on the growing uncertainty over whether the West’s response to ISIS will be enough to defeat the terrorist threat.
Video

Video Is West Doing Enough to Tackle Islamic State?

U.S. President Barack Obama has ruled out sending ground troops to Iraq to fight militants of the so-called Islamic State, or ISIS, despite officials in Washington describing the extremist group as the biggest threat the United States has faced in years. Henry Ridgwell reports from London on the growing uncertainty over whether the West’s response to ISIS will be enough to defeat the terrorist threat.
Video

Video Pachyderms Play Polo to Raise Money for Elephants

Polo, the ancient team competition typically played on horseback, is known as the “sport of kings.” However, the royal version for one annual event in Thailand swaps the horse for the kingdom’s national symbol - the elephant. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman in Samut Prakan reports that the King’s Cup Elephant Polo tournament is all for a good cause.
Video

Video Coalition to Fight Islamic State Could Reward Assad

The United States along with European and Mideast allies are considering a broader assault against Islamic State fighters who have spread from Syria into Iraq and risk further destabilizing an already troubled region. But as VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports, confronting those militants could end up helping the embattled Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
Video

Video Made in America Socks Get Toehold in Online Fashion Market

Three young entrepreneurs are hoping to revolutionize the high-end sock industry by introducing all-American creations of their own. And they’re doing most of it the old-fashioned way. VOA’s Julie Taboh recently caught up with them to learn what goes into making their one-of-a-kind socks.
Video

Video Americans, Ex-Pats Send Relief Supplies to West Africa

Health organizations from around the world are sending supplies and specialists to the West African countries that are dealing with the worst Ebola outbreak in history. On a smaller scale, ordinary Americans and African expatriates living in the United States are doing the same. VOA's Carol Pearson reports.
Video

Video America's Most Popular Artworks Displayed in Public Places

Public places in cities across America were turned into open-air art galleries in August. Pictures of the nation’s most popular artworks were displayed on billboards, bus shelters, subway platforms and more. The idea behind “Art Everywhere,” a collaborative campaign by five major museums is to allow more people to enjoy art and learn about the country’s culture and history. Faiza Elmasry has more.
Video

Video Chinese Doctors Use 3-D Spinal Implant

A Chinese boy suffering from a debilitating bone disease has become the first patient with a part of his spine created in a three-dimensional printer. Doctors say he will soon regain normal mobility. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Uneasy Calm Settles Over Israel, Gaza Strip

Israel and the Gaza Strip have been calm since a cease-fire set in Tuesday evening, ending seven weeks of hostilities. Hamas, which controls Gaza, declared victory. Israelis were more wart. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Jerusalem.
Video

Video India’s Leprosy Battle Stymied by Continuing Stigma

Medical advancements in the treatment of leprosy have greatly diminished its impact around the world, largely eliminating the disease from most countries. India made great strides in combating leprosy, but still accounts for a majority of the world’s new cases each year, and the number of newly infected Indians is rising - more than 130,000 recorded last year. Doctors there say the problem has more to do with society than science. Shaikh Azizur Rahman reports from Kolkata.
Video

Video Scientists Unlock Mystery of Bird Flocks

How can flocks of birds, schools of fish or herds of antelope suddenly change direction -- all the individuals adjusting their movement in concert, at seemingly the same time? British researchers now have some insights into this behavior, which has puzzled scientists for a long time. VOA's George Putic has more.

AppleAndroid