PH blasts new China map

Posted at 06/25/14 6:41 PM

MANILA - The Philippine government criticized Wednesday China's publication of a new map that marks as its territory disputed islands in the South China Sea as well as waters right on the edge of the Philippine coast.

Foreign Affairs Spokesman Charles Jose said the publication of the new map only shows China's "unreasonably expansive claim" of territories in the South China Sea that is contrary to international law.

"We should take note that no other country recognizes previously China's nine-dash claim. Publishing a new map does not make the territories that they claim theirs," he said in an ANC interview.

"It is precisely such ambitious expansionism that is causing tensions in the South China Sea," he added.

Jose said the Philippine government has already protested China's moves to create artificial islands and other reclamations in the disputed territories.

He said Manila is expecting a favorable ruling in its arbitration case against China before an international tribunal.

Chinese authorities said the new Chinese map was published to "better show" China's territorial claim over the region.

The map illustrates China's claim over the South China Sea by marking 10 dash lines around the region just off the coasts of neighboring countries Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei and the Philippines.

Previously, China had a nine-dash line claim in the region. The new China map has 10 dashes.

Lawyer Harry Roque, director of the University of the Philippines Institute of International Legal Study, said China seemed to be confused because it keeps on changing information on its territorial claim in the region.

"Legally speaking, the 10-dash line is self-serving because there is an ongoing proceeding to test the validity of the nine-dash line. No matter what China does, ultimately the tribunal would be the one to rule on the legality of the 9-dash or ten-dash line," he said.

"How can you expect the international community to believe ts validity when the claimant itself China is not sure if it is 9, 10 or 11-dash line?"

He said the Philippine government should request for provisional measures, similar to temporary restraining orders, that would stop China from changing the features of the disputed areas.

In recent months, Chinese vessels have driven away Vietnamese and Philippine ships in disputed territories.

The Philippines has challenged China's territorial claim before the International Tribunal on the Law of the Sea (ITLOS) but China refuses to take part in the arbitration process.

China's foreign ministry said people should not read too much into the issuing of the new map.

"The goal is to serve the Chinese public. As for the intentions, I think there is no need to make too much of any association here," ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying told a daily news briefing.

"China's position on the South China Sea issue is consistent and extremely clear. Our stance has not changed."

Beijing claims about 90 percent of the South China Sea, but parts of the potentially energy-rich waters are also subject to claims by the Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei and Taiwan.

Tensions have risen sharply in the region in recent months, especially between China and both Vietnam and the Philippines.

China's positioning of an oil rig in waters claimed by both Beijing and Hanoi last month has lead to rammings at sea between ships from both countries and anti-Chinese violence in Vietnam. With Reuters