China Steals Philippine Territory

The Philippines has formally notified China that it is bringing their long-standing territorial dispute over parts of the resource-rich West Philippine Sea (South China Sea to China) to a United Nations tribunal for a peaceful and internationally-accepted resolution, Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario said on Tuesday.

The Philippines handed a note verbale (diplomatic note) to Chinese Ambassador Ma Keqing on Tuesday afternoon to notify China of its decision to elevate its complaint to the Arbitral Tribunal, an option provided for by the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), Del Rosario said.

“To this day, a solution is still elusive,” Del Rosario told a press conference. “We hope that the arbitral proceedings shall bring this dispute to durable solution.”

The move to bring the disputes to the UN is Manila’s latest attempt to end its long-running maritime row with China, which has gone nowhere as both sides refused to back down from their hardline positions.

Cases handled by international tribunals on maritime disputes normally take three to four years to resolve, according to DFA.

Attached to the note verbale is the Philippines’ Notification and Statement of Claim, which challenges China’s so-called nine-dash claim to almost the entire South China Sea, including Manila’s territories in the West Philippine Sea.

China’s nine-dash line is a U-shaped map that covers nearly 90 percent of the waters and overlaps with the sovereign territories of its Asian neighbors like the Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei and Taiwan.

Manila’s complaint also demands China “to desist from unlawful activities that violate the sovereign rights and jurisdiction of the Philippines” under the UNCLOS.

UNCLOS gives maritime nations the right to manage, explore and exploit features in areas within a 200-nautical mile limit from its coast.

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