Vice Foreign Minister Fu Ying on Wednesday summoned the Charge D’affaires of the Philippine Embassy in China to lodge a representation over the recent incident at Huangyan Island following a previous summons on Sunday.
Fu said the harassment of Chinese fishermen by a Philippine naval ship in a lagoon near Huangyan Island has aroused “great concern” on the part of China.
On April 10, 12 Chinese fishing boats were harassed by a Philippine Navy gunboat while taking refuge from harsh weather in a lagoon near China’s Huangyan Island. Two Chinese Marine Surveillance ships conducting routine patrols in the area later came to the fishermen’s rescue.
“The tension has been eased through bilateral negotiations,” Fu said, adding that she hopes the Philippine side will honor their commitment and immediately withdraw their ships from the lagoon.
Philippine authorities have recently stated that the Philippines has sovereignty over Huangyan Island, Fu said, adding that their remarks are contrary to historical fact and legal principles.
Huangyan Island is an integral part of Chinese territory, Fu said, adding that there is no basis for the Philippines’ claim to the island and that China cannot accept their claim.
She urged the Philippine side to respect China’s sovereignty, refrain from taking any action that might escalate the situation and make due efforts to safeguard peace and stability on the South China Sea.
Philippine Foreign Secretary Albert del Rosario on Tuesday asked China to agree to bring the dispute to the International Tribunal on the Law of the Sea for arbitration.
In response, Foreign Ministry spokesman Liu Weimin said on Wednesday that both sides previously agreed to deal with disputes through bilateral talks.
“China and the Philippines are maintaining diplomatic communication concerning the issue,” he said.
Liu said China’s sovereignty over Huangyan Island has full legal basis. He said China was the first to discover Huangyan Island, name it, incorporate it into its territory and exercise jurisdiction over it.
Huangyan Island and its surrounding waters are traditional fishing areas for Chinese fishermen, having been used by them since ancient times, Liu said.
Many scientific expeditions organized by China’s State Bureau of Surveying, National Earthquake Bureau and National Bureau of Oceanography have been held on the island and its surrounding waters, he noted.
The Philippines never disputed China’s claim to the island until 1997, having repeatedly stated that the island was outside of the Philippines’ territory, Liu said.8 Philippine maps published in 1981 and 1984, for example, indicate that Huangyan Island is outside of the Philippines’ territory, he said.
“The land dominates the sea” is a basic principle of international maritime law, Liu said.
He said that the United Nations Convention on the Law Of the Sea (UNCLOS) allows coastal states to claim a 200-nautical-mile Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ), but does not grant them rights to undermine the inherent territory and sovereignty of other countries.