It means a lot to the Philippines that Vietnam submitted a Position Paper to the Arbitral Tribunal of the United Nations that is handling the complaint filed by the Philippines against China on the conflict in the South China Sea.
Probably so as not to further antagonize China, with whom the Philippines has rekindled relations marked by the meeting of President Aquino with Chinese President Xi Jinping last month on the sidelines of the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation summit, the statement of the Department of Foreign Affairs in reaction to the statement of Vietnam was sober.
The statement, released three days after Vietnam made public the Dec. 4 submission to the U.N. Arbitral Tribunal in The Hague, said: “PH has had close consultations with Vietnam, bilaterally as well as within ASEAN, on claims and issues in the South China Sea. We now understand that Vietnam has made its position on our arbitration case known to the Tribunal. This is not wholly unexpected, since Vietnam naturally seeks to protect its own interests. What we understand, however, consistent with our previous discussions, is that the Vietnam’s basic position largely accords with ours with regards to the South China Sea.
“As such, the Vietnamese position is helpful in terms of promoting the rule of law and in finding peaceful and nonviolent solutions to the South China Sea claims based on international law, including UNCLOS. This promotes peace and stability in our region.”