Protesters flash thumbs-down signs as they shout slogans during a rally near the Chinese Consulate in the financial district of Makati city, Philippines, to denounce the alleged deployment of surface-to-air-missiles by China on the disputed islands off South China Sea, Friday, Feb. 19, 2016. The protesters are calling on China to halt its island-building on some of the disputed islands and its alleged increasing militarization. AP Photo/Bullit Marquez
MANILA, Philippines – China is not above the law and should heed calls by the international community that it respect whatever is decided by an arbitration court on Manila’s case against Beijing’s expansive claims in the West Philippine Sea and South China Sea.
Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario issued the statement yesterday in response to Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi’s accusing the Philippines of “political provocation” in seeking arbitration for its territorial spat with Beijing. Wang made the accusation in a speech before a gathering in Washington organized by the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS).
“As we presume to be responsible states, the Philippines, as well as the international community, are asking China to respect the forthcoming ruling of the arbitral tribunal and together advance an international rules-based regime,” Del Rosario said in a statement.
“If China does not heed our collective call, does it mean that China considers itself above the law?”
Wang said the decision by Philippine leaders to lodge a case with the Permanent Court of Arbitration based in The Hague was “irresponsible to the Filipino people and the future of the Philippines.”
China has refused to participate in the proceedings. A ruling is expected later this year, after the tribunal decided last October that it could hear the case.