Manila, Tokyo stress law in seas disputed with China
Foreign ministers call for respect of maritime law in 2 seas where Beijing has disputes with its neighbors
The top diplomats of the Philippines and Japan reiterated Thursday their call for China to respect maritime law and security in two seas where Beijing has disputes with its neighbors.
Philippines Foreign Affairs Secretary Perfecto Yasay said during a televised joint press conference with his Japanese counterpart that both countries were united in voicing “concern” over Beijing’s activities in the South China Sea and East China Sea.
"We… urge China to make sure that maritime law and security must be completely and uncompromisingly respected," news broadcaster ABS-CBN quoted him as saying in the southern Philippine city of Davao.
China claims around 90 percent of the South China Sea -- which is believed to be sitting atop huge oil and gas deposits -- but the Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei and Taiwan also consider some of the region’s waters, islands and reefs to be their territory.
China's reclamation work in the region, which includes the building of airfields, has prompted the United States and its allies -- including Japan -- to express alarm over the maritime expansion, which they suspect is aimed at extending its military reach.
On July 12, the Permanent Court of Arbitration based in The Hague ruled in favor of the Philippines in its petition against China’s “nine-dash line” claim on a large part of the sea -- which Manila calls the West Philippine Sea.
China, meanwhile, has accused the Philippines of having “deliberately mischaracterized” disputes in the sea, declaring the court's award "null and void".
Meanwhile, Tokyo has disputes with Beijing in the East China Sea, especially the Senkaku Islands.
Referring to alleged intimidation and provocation by China in both seas, Yasay said Thursday that such activities are “not the kind of action that is mandated by international law".
Japanese Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida stressed the need for all parties to submit to the rule of law “and not the rule of coercion in the pursuit of solution to the conflict”.
“Maritime order based on the rule of law would be responsible for maritime security and prosperity,” he was quoted by the Philippine Daily Inquirer as saying.
“I believe that the achievement of rule of law at sea is through closer partnership and that is important,” he added. “Japan is cooperating closely with all countries concerned for the peaceful resolution, not coercion.”