Philippines engage China in debate at UN General Assembly

The Philippine delegation, headed by Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario, engaged China during the general debate at the 70th Session of the General Assembly of the United Nations. Department of Foreign Affairs said the Philippines once again invited China “to join the deliberations of the arbitral tribunal and to let the merits be decided upon on the basis of international law and with transparency rather than by recourse to coercion and intimidation.”

“With the growing support from the international community in peacefully resolving disputes in the South China Sea, including through arbitration, the Philippines believes that the final outcome of this arbitration process would pave the way for a settlement of the maritime disputes,” del Rosario said in his address to the UNGA.

China, on the contrary said it wants a peaceful settlement in accordance with international law but insisted through bilateral negotiations and consultations. China emphasized that its claims of sovereignty over the South China Sea are based on historical and legal foundations.

The Philippine delegation, for its part, stressed that “given that the South China Sea is an international waterway, the stronger the reason to settle any disputes thereof at an international level, under international law, including arbitration under Annex VII of UNCLOS.”

DFA said Philippines has maintained the position that the core issue in the South China Sea is the claim of indisputable sovereignty of China, as represented by the nine-dash line, over almost the entire South China Sea, which has no basis under international law. “We cannot, moreover, accept China’s illegal actions on its artificial islands as fait accompli,” the Secretary added.

“The world cannot allow a country, no matter how powerful, to claim an entire sea as its own nor should it allow coercion to be an acceptable dispute settlement mechanism,” Secretary del Rosario concluded.