Philippine gov't closely watching China-Japan dispute

Manila (Philippine Daily Inquirer/ANN) - The Philippine Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) is closely watching developments in the dispute between China and Japan over islands in the East China Sea, as it continues to push for a peaceful resolution to its own territorial row with China.

"We need to know the facts, after which we need to fully understand the issue. We are requesting our UN mission to obtain the necessary information," Foreign Secretary Albert del Rosario said yesterday, when asked about China's move to submit its competing claim with Japan using the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (Unclos).

The Philippines has been trying to get China to submit its claims over disputed territories within the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea) with Unclos, but China has refused, pushing its claims instead by citing old maps and historical papers.

Within economic zone

The Philippines has maintained that the disputed Panatag (Scarbourough) Shoal is within the country's 200-nautical mile exclusive economic zone (EEZ) based on Unclos.

Tensions between China and Japan recently escalated after Japan announced its purchase of the fiercely contested islands (Senkaku Islands to the Japanese, Diaoyu to the Chinese) from a private owner.

Violent protests targeting Japanese establishments have erupted in China in the wake of the territorial dispute, prompting firms like electronics giants Canon and Panasonic to halt operations in Chinese cities.

Besides Japan, China also has conflicting claims with the Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei and Taiwan over territories in the West Philippine Sea.

Bolster our position

Meanwhile, Albay Governor Joey Salceda said China's move to use Unclos in its dispute with Japan should bolster the Philippines' position to settle its own territorial conflict with China with the international body.

"This Chinese-differentiated approach surely fortifies the moral posture of the Philippines in bringing the Spratlys and Panatag to Unclos," said Salceda.

The economic adviser of former President Gloria Arroyo also lamented China's refusal to abide by the UN law when dealing with the Philippines.

"China goes to Unclos because Japan will and can fight. (But) China refuses to bring the Spratlys and Panatag (conflicts) to Unclos (b)ecause (it) knows that the Philippines will not and cannot fight," Salceda said in an e-mail.

Unlike in China, "there are no spontaneous rallies of outrage [here]," Salceda said. "There is not even a boycott of China-made products, how much more a shooting war?"

Salceda said a boycott of "made in China" products would "hurt them where it counts."

COPYRIGHT: ASIA NEWS NETWORK

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