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

    Clinton, Trump and the 'Woman’s Card'

    Ask supporters of Democratic front-runner in US presidential campaign, and they’ll tell you Republican presidential candidate is playing a dangerous hand

    Russian Censorship Group Seeks Chinese Help to Better Control Internet

    At recent Safe Internet League forum in Moscow, speakers from both nations underscored desire for authorities to further limit and control information online

    Video Makeshift Pakistani School Helps Slum Kids

    Free classes in Islamabad park serve a few of the country’s nearly 25 million out-of-school youths; NGO cites ‘education crisis’

    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.
    Turkish Kurd Islamist Rally Stokes Tensionsi
    X
    April 29, 2016 12:28 AM
    In a sign of the rising power of Islamists in Turkey, more than 100,000 people recently gathered in Diyarbakir, the main city in Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, to mark the birthday of the Prophet Muhammad. The gathering highlighted tensions with the pro-secular Kurdish nationalist movement. Dorian Jones reports from Diyarbakir.
    Video

    Video Turkish Kurd Islamist Rally Stokes Tensions

    In a sign of the rising power of Islamists in Turkey, more than 100,000 people recently gathered in Diyarbakir, the main city in Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, to mark the birthday of the Prophet Muhammad. The gathering highlighted tensions with the pro-secular Kurdish nationalist movement. Dorian Jones reports from Diyarbakir.
    Video

    Video Pakistani School Helps Slum Kids

    Master Mohammad Ayub runs a makeshift school in a public park in Islamabad. Thousands of poor children have benefited from his services over the years, but, as VOA's Ayesha Tanzeem reports, roughly 25 million school-age youths don't get an education in Pakistan.
    Video

    Video Florida’s Weeki Wachee ‘Mermaids’ Make a Splash

    Since 1947, ‘mermaids’ have fascinated tourists at central Florida’s Weeki Wachee Springs State Park with their fluid movements and synchronized ballet. Performing underwater has its challenges, including cold temperatures and a steady current, as VOA’s Lin Yang and Joseph Mok report.
    Video

    Video Somali, African Union Forces Face Resurgent Al-Shabab

    The Islamic State terror group claimed its first attack in Somalia earlier this week, though the claim has not been verified by forces on the ground. Meanwhile, al-Shabab militants have stepped up their attacks as Somalia prepares for elections later this year. Henry Ridgwell reports there are growing frustrations among Somalia’s Western backers over the country’s slow progress in forming its own armed forces to establish security after 25 years of chaos.
    Video

    Video Bangladesh Targeted Killings Spark Wave of Fear

    People in Bangladesh’s capital are expressing deep concern over the brutal attacks that have killed secular blogger, and most recently a gay rights activist and an employee of the U.S. embassy. Xulhaz Mannan, an embassy protocol officer and the editor of the country’s only gay and transgender magazine Roopban; and his friend Mehboob Rabbi Tanoy, a gay rights activist, were hacked to death by five attackers in Mannan’s Dhaka home earlier this month.
    Video

    Video Documentary Tells Tale of Chernobyl Returnees

    Ukraine this week is marking the 30th anniversary of the world's worst nuclear accident, at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant. Soviet officials at first said little about the accident, but later evacuated a 2,600-square-kilometer "exclusion zone." Some people, though, came back. American directors Holly Morris and Anne Bogart created a documentary about this faithful and brave community. VOA's Tetiana Kharchenko reports from New York on "The Babushkas of Chernobyl." Carol Pearson narrates.
    Video

    Video Nigerians Feel Bite of Buhari Economic Policy

    Despite the global drop in the price of oil, Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari has refused to allow the country's currency to devalue, leading to a shortage of foreign exchange. Chris Stein reports from Lagos businessmen and consumers are feeling the impact as the country deals with a severe fuel shortage.
    Video

    Video  Return to the Wild

    There’s a growing trend in the United States to let old or underused golf courses revert back to nature. But as Erika Celeste reports from one parcel in Grafton, Ohio, converting 39 hectares of land back to green space is a lot more complicated than just not mowing the fairway.
    Video

    Video West Urges Unity in Libya as Migrant Numbers Soar

    The Italian government says a NATO-led mission aimed at stemming the flow of migrants from Libya to Europe could be up and running by July. There are concerns that the number of migrants could soar as the route through Greece and the Balkans remains blocked. Western powers say the political chaos in Libya is being exploited by people smugglers — and they are pressuring rival groups to come together under the new unity government. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
    Video

    Video Russia’s TV Rain Swims Against Tide in Sea of Kremlin Propaganda

    Russia’s media freedoms have been gradually eroded under President Vladimir Putin as his government has increased state ownership, influence, and restrictions on critical reporting. Television, where most Russians get their news, has been the main target and is now almost completely state controlled. But in the Russian capital, TV Rain stands out as an island in a sea of Kremlin propaganda.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora