Once again, China reiterated their non-recognition of the 2016 arbitral ruling invalidating its 9-dash line claim over nearly all of the South China Sea. This came despite President Rodrigo Duterte’s stance which he announced before the United Nations General Assembly in his speech.
The July 2016 decision on the arbitration case by The Hague-based Permanent Court of Arbitration recognized the Philippines’ sovereign rights in its exclusive economic zone in the resource-rich waters.
“The award is now part of international law, beyond compromise and beyond the reach of passing governments to dilute, diminish or abandon. We firmly reject attempts to undermine it,” Duterte said in his UNGA speech.
However, Chinese Ambassador to the Philippines Huang Xilian has mentioned a “consensus” that according to him has been discussed by Duterte and Chinese President Xi Jinping that aim at shelving maritime disputes and managing the situation through dialogue.
“China’s position on the so-called arbitral ruling has been very clear: We do not accept and we do not recognize this so-called ruling. It has been agreed by our two presidents that we should close the old chapter and shelve differences,” said Huang in a virtual forum organized by the Association for Philippines-China Understanding Inc. (APCU)
China, from the beginning, has ignored the ruling but the president continued to seek closer ties with the East Asian giant for his administration’s infrastructure projects.
Former Supreme Court Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio issued a warning that Beijing could seize natural gas deposits in the Reed Bank (Recto Bank) in the disputed waters if Manila is unable to pay the $62-million Chinese loan for the Chico River Irrigation Loan Agreement.
Carpio is a long-time advocate of the Philippines’ sovereignty and a vocal critic of what he calls China’s “creeping invasion.”