DFA: UN keeping close watch over PHL-China territory row

The United Nations this week said it will keep tabs on developments on the maritime row between the Philippines and China at the South China Sea (West Philippine Sea), the Department of Foreign Affairs said Thursday.
UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon relayed this position to Philippine permanent representative to the UN Libran Cabactulan last Tuesday, the DFA said.
“The Secretary-General assured the Ambassador that he was closely monitoring developments on the case,” the DFA said.
According to the DFA, Ban also “renewed the world body’s support for a peaceful and amicable resolution of the maritime dispute between the Philippines and China over the West Philippine Sea.”
Present at the meeting between Ban and Cabactulan were UN Undersecretary-General for Legal Affairs Patricia O’Brien and other senior UN officials.
During the meeting, Cabactulan reiterated to Ban the Philippines’ move to bring the case before an international arbitration body is a “form of peaceful settlement of disputes, which should not be considered an unfriendly act.”
He added this was in line with the UN General Assembly’s adoption in 1982 of the Manila Declaration on the Peaceful Settlement of International Disputes.
Cabactulan also told Ban the arbitration case would benefit both the Philippines and China, along with the region and the world.
“It will be an opportunity for China to assure the international community of its peaceful rise,” he said.
Cabactulan also said the case concerns China’s interpretation and application of the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), in particular its nine-dash line claim.
He said this claim interferes with the Philippines’ exercise of its sovereign rights and jurisdiction in its exclusive economic zone and continental shelf.
Foreign ministry spokesman Hong Lei also maintained China has historical, jurisprudential evidence to support its claim to the Nansha (Spratly) islands, China’s Xinhua reported.
“China hopes the Philippines will honor its commitment by not taking any action that could complicate the issue, positively respond to China’s proposal to establish a bilateral dialogue mechanism on maritime issues and work to solve the issue through bilateral negotiations,” the Xinhuanet report quoted Hong as saying at a press briefing Tuesday. —KG, GMA News