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Thread: China hits out at RP baselines bill on Spratly claims

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    China hits out at RP baselines bill on Spratly claims

    China hits out at RP baselines bill on Spratly claims


    BEIJING - China on Wednesday slammed the Philippines for laying claim to parts of the disputed Spratly Islands, calling the move a violation of Chinese sovereignty.

    "The government of the People’s Republic of China has indisputable sovereignty over these islands and their adjacent waters," said a statement issued by the foreign ministry.

    The statement took exception to Philippine claims on Huangyan Island -- also known as Scarborough Shoal -- and other parts of the Spratlys, which are known in China as the Nansha islands.

    "Claims to territory sovereignty over Huangyan Island and the Nansha Islands by any other country are all illegal and invalid," the statement said.

    Philippine lawmakers on Tuesday passed a bill spelling out its claims in the South China Sea, whose islands are claimed in whole or in part by a host of Asian nations.

    The legislation, however, also acknowledges rival claims.

    Included within the Philippine claims are the Scarborough Shoal, also claimed by China, and part of the Spratly chain, also claimed in whole or in part by Brunei, China, Malaysia, Taiwan and Vietnam.

    China's official Xinhua news agency said Vice Foreign Minister Wang Guangya summoned the charge d'affaires of the Philippine embassy in Beijing on Wednesday to lodge a "stern protest" over the bill.

    There was no immediate mention of any retaliatory measures.

    The islands sit astride vital sea lanes and may contain significant oil and gas deposits.

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    Update:

    Arroyo to sign baselines bill despite China protest


    Malacañang defiantly assured on Thursday that the baselines bill will be put into law even after it drew criticisms from home and from China.

    Deputy Presidential spokesperson Anthony Golez said that the bill will be put into law, a day after China protested the passage of the law which treated two island groups it contests with the Philippines, as part of "a regime of islands under the Republic of the Philippines."

    Foreign Affairs spokesman Ambassador Bayani Mangibin, however, said the Philippines is taking the high ground on the protest of China, refusing to file a counter-protest to China's diplomatic protest.

    Mangibin said the Philippines is instead considering the matter of summoning China's envoy here in Manila to explain to them what the bill is all about.

    "Yes, we're taking higher ground. We have to let patience, and try to reach out to the other side. We're expecting that with their interest, they'd be enthusiastic in pushing their interest so iniintindi natin sila diyan," Mangibin said.

    Mangibin also held out the possibility that the baselines, Spratlys, and Scarborough Shoal issues could be discussed by regional leaders at the sidelines of the coming ASEAN summit.

    The Philippine government seems to be taking the protest of China in stride, with Mangibin sidestepping questions if China was bullying the Philippines. He said the government is putting the protest in the context of China simply trying to fight for its own interest.

    Mangibin expressed hope that China will resolve the matter with the Philippines under the Code of Conduct agreed upon by claimants to the disputed islands.

    'Bill complies with UNCLOS'

    Mangibin says the baselines bill's passage was in compliance with a requirement of the 1984 UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), which defines the extended continental shelves of countries around the world.

    Mangibin also said that the bill is consistent with the regional code of conduct claimants countries observe.

    Mangibin also assured China that its concerns were addressed in this bill along with the concerns of other claimant countries.

    Despite the negative reaction from China, Mangibin maintained that China-RP ties remain strong, noting two ongoing trade missions from China, and an ongoing visit of Vice President Noli de Castro to Xiamen province.

    Mangibin expressed optimism that the matter will be resolved well since the China's own press statements in their media said that the Chinese government looks forward to stronger relations with the Philippines even with the passage of the bill.

    "Our impression is, they said they indicated their wish to strengthen further relationship and so they'd like to seek clarification."

    On the other hand, Mangibin also defended the bill from critics in the Philippines, saying it asserts the interests of country, contrary claims that it is a "sell-out."

    Mangibin said that the bill clearly does not recognize China's claims to all of the islands.

    "The fact hindi natin iniiwan regime of islands and nilagay natin under RP, mismong ‘andoon na ‘yong assurance na hindi natin papabayaan... Well, we're a democratic country at iyan ay rerespetuhin natin. Issue rito is, ni-recognize ba natin na kanila ‘yon, eh sinasabi nga natin may kine-claim tayo," he said.

    ‘Diplomatic maneuvers’

    Sen. Miriam Defensor Santiago meanwhile defended the baselines bill which was hit by China which called it a violation of Chinese sovereignty.

    "There's no cause for alarm because all that we did in our baselines bill is register our claim of ownership over those two groups of islands. There are conflicting claims of ownership registered by China and several other Southeast Asian countries who are our neighbors,” said Santiago.

    She said the Philippines has to make it on record in the United Nations that the country has claims of ownership on the disputed islands.

    “We're simply filing our claim so that it cannot be used later on that we waived our claim and therefore the protest of China should also be viewed as a pro forma protest. That is to say, they are just making it of record that they are protesting …. because they have a contrary claim,” explained Santigao.

    She said that China’s statement is just part of “diplomatic protocol” to protect their own claim.

    Santiago also said she does not think this would however affect whatever economic aid the Philippines is receiving from China.

    "No it will not. Because if it reduces the economic aid or volume foreign trade to the Philippines. Then we will consider that either an irritant or an act of belligerence on their part. For example, an act of belligerence is if the Philippines send Filipinos soldiers to occupy those islands. But if we simply filed a claim and China simply filed a protest, then we're just pursuing all diplomatic options,” said Santiago.

    Santiago said that President Arroyo should still proceed with the signing of the baselines bill.

    "She (the president) understands that these are just diplomatic maneuvers. We're merely making a claim of ownership. We're not doing anything to aggravate or irritate the other state claiming over the same islands," said the senator.

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