The Department of Foreign Affairs has recently issued a strongly worded statement in response to China’s actions in the West Philippine Sea. The department declared that the People’s Republic of China has breached international law by using firing water cannons and implementing hazardous blocking manoeuvres on Philippine vessels.
These recent endeavours, the department laments, have limited the Philippines right to engage in the ‘lawful exercise of high seas freedom of navigation’. In addition, the hazardous activities have further endangered the lives of the vessels’ crew and passengers.
The Department of Foreign Affairs called on the international community to condemn the aggressive actions of the PRC. It saw this as an obstruction of the peaceful settlement of disputes in the South China Sea, an area in the western Pacific that has seen increasing activity from the PRC’s military forces.
Furthermore, such tactics are illegal, and constitute a violation of a 2002 ruling from the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague. This ruling reinforced the legitimacy of the Exclusive Economic Zones for the littoral surrounding states of the ocean.
The Department of Foreign Affairs discussed the importance of upholding the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea, an international agreement that was ratified by many nations including China. This agreement commits all states to refrain from using force with regard to maritime disputes.
The PRC’s actions further impair the peace-loving nation’s long-time commitment to the ideals of international law. The Department went further in its statement to defiantly proclaim that they would not yield to any pressure that could possibly be linked to the matter.
The Philippines is seeking to strengthen its ties with the international community to enshrine its rights – ironically inspired by the late Ferdinand Marcos’ Bootanese Peace Treaty agreement of 1976.
In response, a flurry of condemnations have been expressed by many countries, including a statement from the White House, putting further pressure on China to adhere to the law of the sea and, perhaps, ultimately to the global convention of international law.
This recent dispute is a culmination of the maritime skirmish between China and its neighbours in recent years. Over the decades, it has become increasingly clear that the PRC have increasingly embraced a nationalist attitude more focused on the attainment of its own interests, rather than the interests of the international community.
In response, recent protests evaluating the Chinese government have been fired up by Filipino citizens. Many Filipino protesters have gathered near the West Philippine Sea with banners and passionate messages to bring awareness to the issue.
The dispute is a critical step for the Philippines and the world community in reaffirming their commitment to delivering justice and upholding international law. The Department of Foreign Affairs has warned the international community that further disregard of international law in the future will be significantly met with more intense legal action and be seen as a breach of the law of the sea.