Tuesday, July 12, 2016

PH ally Japan 'expects' China to follow arbitration ruling

Philippine ally Japan said it "strongly expects" China to comply with an arbitration ruling that rejected Beijing's claims to economic rights in disputed areas in the South China Sea.

"Japan strongly expects that the parties’ compliance with this award will eventually lead to the peaceful settlement of disputes in the South China Sea," Japan Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida said in a statement Tuesday.

Japan also reiterated its stand on the "importance of the rule of law," as it recognized the decision of the arbitral tribunal at The Hague as "final and legally binding."

"Japan has consistently advocated the importance of the rule of law and the use of peaceful means, not the use of force or coercion, in seeking settlement of maritime disputes," Kishida added.

The arbitral tribunal on Tuesday unanimously rejected China's claims to economic rights across large swathes of the West Philippine Sea. The ruling does not, however, "answer any question of sovereignty over land territory and does not delimit any boundary between the Parties."

"There was no legal basis for China to claim historic rights to resources within the sea areas falling within the 'nine-dash line'," the court said, referring to a demarcation line on a 1947 map of the sea, which is rich in energy, mineral and fishing resources.

In the ruling, judges also found that Chinese law enforcement patrols risked colliding with Philippine fishing vessels and caused irreparable damage to coral reefs.

In 2013, the Philippines filed a case against China, saying Beijing was in violation of the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), to which both countries are signatories.

One of the key issues was whether the land features in the area are islands capable of supporting human habitation -- which under UNCLOS are entitled to territorial waters and an exclusive economic zone -- or rocks, which only have territorial waters, or low-tide elevations, which get neither.

In May 2016, Japan lodged a maritime defense agreement project with the Philippines, with the lease of training aircraft.

In April, a Japanese warship also sailed into a Philippine port near disputed South China Sea waters, in another sign of deepening security ties between the World War II foes to counter Beijing. -- With reports from Reuters, Agence France-Presse

source: www.abs-cbnnews.com