Thu, Aug 04, 2011 - Page 5 News List

Manila vows to push ahead with UN island claims

AP, MANILA, Philippines

The Philippines said yesterday that it would press its territorial claims in the South China Sea in accordance with international law before the UN, dismissing Chinese criticism that Manila is insincere in resolving the long-simmering disputes.

The Chinese Communist Party newspaper People’s Daily said on Tuesday that recent construction work by Philippine troops on an island claimed by Manila violates the spirit of a preliminary agreement reached last month to resolve disputes in the South China Sea.

That shows Manila had merely been putting on “a little show,” the paper said in a signed editorial. China would not sit idly by while its territory is swallowed up by others, it said. China claims the South China Sea and all its islands as its territory.

“Were there to be a serious strategic miscalculation on this matter, the due consequences would have to be paid,” the newspaper said.

Philippine Foreign Secretary Albert del Rosario did not directly address the new Chinese accusation, but said Manila was committed to a “rules-based regime and to a peaceful resolution” of the disputes.

“We maintain that what is ours is ours and are prepared to validate our position in accordance with international law, specifically UNCLOS,” del Rosario said, referring to the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea.

“We invite China to do the same,” he said in a brief statement.

The agreement reached between China and ASEAN last month sought to lower tensions that have spiked in recent months over territorial disputes in the potentially resource-rich South China Sea between the Philippines, China and Vietnam.

Manila and Hanoi complain that increasingly assertive Chinese ships have interfered with their oil-exploration efforts or bullied crews, something Beijing denies.

Taiwan, Malaysia and Brunei have also laid claim to overlapping areas.

China has used force in the past to kick Vietnamese troops out of territory it claims, although recent disputes have largely been peaceful.

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