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Philippines calls on Beijing to respect tribunal ruling on South China Sea

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
Philippine Foreign Affairs Secretary Perfecto Yasay delivers a statement during a press conference following a ruling by a UN-backed tribunal on the South China Sea, in Manila, July 12, 2016. (Photo by AFP)

The Philippines has called on China to respect the recent ruling by an international tribunal that dismissed Beijing’s territorial claims in disputed areas in the South China Sea.

In a statement on Thursday, the Philippines’ Foreign Affairs Department said Foreign Affairs Secretary Perfecto Yasay will urge “the need for parties to respect the recent decision” by the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague at an upcoming summit.

The court had earlier declared that China’s claims to the resource-rich and strategically vital South China Sea were baseless.

“There was no legal basis for China to claim historic rights to resources within the sea areas falling within the ‘nine-dash line,’” the court said in reference to a 1947 demarcation line.

China had said before the ruling was issued that it would not recognize it. Beijing reiterated that position after the announcement of the ruling.

Yasay, the Philippine foreign affairs secretary, will be attending a two-day Asia-Europe summit known as ASEM, starting on Friday. In its Thursday statement, the Philippines’ Foreign Affairs Department said Yasay will officially raise the issue at the conference.

“Secretary Yasay will discuss within the context of ASEM’s agenda the Philippines’ peaceful and rules-based approach on the South China Sea and the need for parties to respect the recent decision,” the statement read.

This photo, taken on May 5, 2016, shows Chinese military vessels taking part in a drill in the Paracel Islands in the South China Sea. (By AFP)

Following the ruling, which was announced on Tuesday, Manila had urged restraint and sobriety.

China has warned of the prospect of intensified conflict and even military confrontation over the waters, saying, the maritime dispute should not be part of the ASEM agenda. Chinese Assistant Foreign Minister Kong Xuanyou has said the meeting was “not an appropriate venue” to discuss the issue.

The ASEM summit, which is to be held in Mongolia, brings together nations from Asia and Europe, including the other claimants to the sea Vietnam and Malaysia.

China claims most of the energy-rich waters, through which about $5 trillion in ship-borne trade passes every year.

Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines, Taiwan and Vietnam also have overlapping claims. In their dispute, they are propped up by the US.

Beijing accuses Washington of meddling in regional issues and deliberately stirring up tensions in the South China Sea.

The US, in turn, accuses China of carrying out what it calls a land reclamation program in the South China Sea by building artificial islands in the disputed areas.

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