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

Turkey: No Ransom Paid for Release of Hostages Held by IS Militants

President Erdogan hails release of hostages as diplomatic success but declines to be drawn on whether their release freed Ankara's hand to take more active stance against insurgents More

Audio Sierra Leone Ends Ebola Lockdown

Health ministry says it has reached 75 percent of its target of visiting 1.5 million homes to locate infected, educate population about virus More

US Pivot to Asia Demands Delicate Balancing Act

As tumult in Middle East distracts Obama administration, efforts to shift American focus eastward appear threatened 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.
Natural Gas Export Plan Divides Maryland Towni
X
Deborah Block
September 21, 2014 2:12 PM
A U.S. power company that has been importing natural gas now wants to export it. If approved, its plant in Lusby, Maryland, would likely be the first terminal on the United States East Coast to export liquefied natural gas from American pipelines. While some residents welcome the move because it will create jobs, others oppose it, saying the expansion could be a safety and environmental hazard. VOA’s Deborah Block examines the controversy.
Video

Video Natural Gas Export Plan Divides Maryland Town

A U.S. power company that has been importing natural gas now wants to export it. If approved, its plant in Lusby, Maryland, would likely be the first terminal on the United States East Coast to export liquefied natural gas from American pipelines. While some residents welcome the move because it will create jobs, others oppose it, saying the expansion could be a safety and environmental hazard. VOA’s Deborah Block examines the controversy.
Video

Video Difficult Tactical Battle Ahead Against IS Militants in Syria

The U.S. president has ordered the military to intensify its fight against the Islamic State, including in Syria. But how does the military conduct air strikes in a country that is not a U.S. ally? VOA correspondent Carla Babb reports from the Pentagon.
Video

Video Iran, World Powers Seek Progress in Nuclear Talks

Iran and the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council plus Germany, known as the P5 + 1, have started a new round of talks on Iran's nuclear program. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins reports that as the negotiations take place in New York, a U.S. envoy is questioning Iran's commitment to peaceful nuclear activity.
Video

Video Alibaba Shares Soar in First Day of Trading

China's biggest online retailer hit the market Friday -- with its share price soaring on the New York Stock Exchange. The shares were priced at $68, but trading stalled at the opening, as sellers held onto their shares, waiting for buyers to bid up the price. More on the world's biggest initial public offering from VOA’s Bernard Shusman in New York.
Video

Video Obama Goes to UN With Islamic State, Ebola on Agenda

President Obama goes to the United Nations General Assembly to rally nations to support a coalition against Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria. He also will look for nations to back his plan to fight the Ebola virus in West Africa. As VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports, Obama’s efforts reflect new moves by the U.S. administration to take a leading role in addressing world crises.
Video

Video Migrants Caught in No-Man's Land Called Calais

The deaths of hundreds of migrants in the Mediterranean this week has only recast the spotlight on the perils of reaching Europe. And for those forunate enough to reach a place like Calais, France, only find that their problems aren't over. Lisa Bryant has the story.
Video

Video Westgate Siege Anniversary Brings Back Painful Memories

One year after it happened, the survivors of the terror attack on Nairobi's Westgate Shopping Mall still cannot shake the images of that tragic incident. For VOA, Mohammed Yusuf tells the story of victims still waiting for the answer to the question 'how could this happen?'
Video

Video Militant Assault in Syria Displaces Thousands of Kurds

A major assault by Islamic State militants on Kurds in Syria has sent a wave of new refugees to the Turkish border, where they were stopped by Turkish border security. Turkey is already hosting about 700,000 Syrian refugees who fled the civil war between the government and the opposition. But the government in Ankara has a history of strained relations with Turkey's Kurdish minority. Zlatica Hoke reports Turkey is asking for international help.
Video

Video Whaling Summit Votes to Uphold Ban on Japan Whale Hunt

The International Whaling Commission, meeting in Slovenia, has voted to uphold a court ruling banning Japan from hunting whales in the Antarctic Ocean. Conservationists hailed the ruling as a victory, but Tokyo says it will submit revised plans for a whale hunt in 2015. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video A Dinosaur Fit for Land and Water

Residents and tourists in Washington D.C. can now examine a life-size replica of an unusual dinosaur that lived almost a hundred million years ago in northern Africa. Scientists say studying the behemoth named Spinosaurus helps them better understand how some prehistoric animals adapted to life on land and in water. The Spinosaurus replica is on display at the National Geographic museum. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Iraqi Kurdistan Church Helps Christian Children Cope find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil

In the past six weeks, tens of thousands of Iraqi Christians have been forced to flee their homes by Islamic State militants and find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil. Despite U.S. airstrikes in the region, the prospect of people returning home is still very low and concerns are starting to grow over the impact this is having on the displaced youth. Sebastian Meyer reports from Irbil on how one church is coping.


Carnage and mayhem are part of daily life in northern Nigeria, the result of a terror campaign by the Islamist group Boko Haram. Fears are growing that Nigeria’s government may not know how to counter it, and may be making things worse. More

AppleAndroid