Philippines, China continue war of words over West Philippine Sea

Protesters stage a demonstration to commemorate the 6th anniversary of the Hague Ruling that rejected Chinas historical claims to the disputed waterway, in front of the Chinese Cultural Consulate in Manila, Philippines on July 12, 2022. (Photo by JAM STA ROSA/AFP via Getty Images)
Protesters stage a demonstration to commemorate the 6th anniversary of the Hague Ruling that rejected Chinas historical claims to the disputed waterway, in front of the Chinese Cultural Consulate in Manila, Philippines on July 12, 2022. (Photo by JAM STA ROSA/AFP via Getty Images)

The Philippines continues to assert its sovereignty over the highly-disputed West Philippine Sea after China once again declared the United Nation-backed arbitral ruling in favor of the Philippines as “illegal, null, and void.”

In a press briefing on Wednesday (July 13), Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin said that “China neither accepts nor recognizes [the ruling] and will never accept any claim or action based on the award.”

“By doing so, we are upholding international rule of law,” he added, calling the ruling “illegal, null and void.”

In response, the Philippines’ Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) Secretary Enrique A. Manalo said that the findings of the arbitration court are final, conclusive, and indisputable.

“The award is final,” Manalo said on the sixth anniversary of the ruling on July 12.

“We firmly reject attempts to undermine it; nay, even erase it from law, history and our collective memories. At the same time, we welcome the support of a growing list of countries for the award,” he added.

The Permanent Court of Arbitration based in the Hague has earlier upheld the Philippines’ rights to its exclusive economic zone within its territories, rejecting China’s claim to most of the sea based on a 1940 nine-dash line map.

Several countries have backed the Philippines’ sea claims. The United States, one of its vocal supporters, has since said that they are obligated to defend its treaty ally if its forces come under attack in the disputed territory.

“The United States reaffirms its July 13, 2020 policy regarding maritime claims in the South China Sea,” US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken said in a statement.

“We also reaffirm that an attack on the Philippine armed forces, public vessels, or aircraft in the South China Sea would invoke US mutual defense commitments under Article IV of the 1951 US-Philippines Mutual Defense Treaty,” Blinken added.

China, however, insists that they too have “broad understanding and support” from the international community.

The country urged the US to respect its sovereignty, rights, and interests in the South China Sea, and to stop “stirring up trouble” and “sowing discord between regional countries.”

Pola Rubio is a news writer and photojournalist covering Philippine politics and events. She regularly follows worldwide and local happenings. She advocates for animal welfare and press freedom. Follow her on Twitter @polarubyo for regular news and cat postings.

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