Public calls for respect to PCA’s ruling and peaceful settlement of East Sea disputes

The Philippines on July 14 urged China to respect the ruling of the Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) in The Hague, Netherlands refuting Beijing’s sovereignty claims in the East Sea, stating that Manila will put forward the issue at the upcoming 11th Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM) Summit in Mongolia.  

>>> Tribunal issues award on Philippines vs. China case concerning East Sea disputes

According to the Philippine Foreign Ministry, under the agenda of the ASEM Summit, its Secretary Perfecto R. Yasay will discuss peaceful approaches based on the Philippines’ principles to the East Sea issue and the necessity for all relevant parties to respect the PCA’s recent ruling.

* The Conference of Lawyers in the Asia-Pacific (COLAP) on July 13 issued a statement calling on all relevant parties to respect the PCA’s ruling on the East Sea lawsuit, aiming to maintain security, stability and peace in the region. The Philippines and China have enjoyed long-standing fine diplomatic ties over the past four decades, COLAP said, expressing its hopes that the bilateral relationship will continue to grow regardless of the tribunal’s award. The conference urged countries to address sovereignty disputes by applying the United Nations regulations or via negotiations between stakeholders. There needs to be mutual respect among parties in the spirit of equality in terms of sovereignty and self-determination, it added.

* The Kyodo News cited Japanese PM Shinzo Abe ahead of his departure for Mongolia for the ASEM Summit that he plans to call for compliance with the tribunal’s decision on the ‘nine-dash line’ in the East Sea. He affirmed his intention to stress the importance of the PCA’s ruling and peaceful settlement of the issues.

* Indonesian Minister of Marine Affairs and Fisheries Rizal Ramli on July 13 said that his country plans to send hundreds of fishermen to Natuna Archipelago to affirm its sovereignty over the surrounding areas in the East Sea over which China also claims autonomy. Indonesia objects to China’s territorial claims around the archipelago, including the ‘nine-dash line’, Ramli said. He noted that if Indonesia does not take action, there may well be additional claims in the future breaking the country’s territorial integrity.

* Former Philippine President Benigno Aquino III on July 13 voiced his excitement over the tribunal’s decision. The ruling is a “victory for all” and could lead to further co-operation, he said. He called on the people of the Philippines and “all people of goodwill” to read the abstract of the tribunal’s decisions to get a full insight into what the Philippines has sued China for.

* At a hearing before the US Congress, Dennis Blair, a former commander of US forces in the Pacific, said that the US should be willing to use military force to cope with China’s sudden actions at the disputed Scarborough Shoal. He noted that his intent is not to escalate tensions or start conflict with China at the disputed reef, but to set a limit on its military coercion.

* On July 14, China delivered its official opposition after Australia said it would continue exercising its right of navigation and aviation freedom in the East Sea following the PCA’s award against China’s claims. The move took place after Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop called on all parties to settle the East Sea disputes through peaceful means, while affirming that Australia would continue exercising its international right of navigation and aviation freedom as well as supporting the rights of other countries.

* China’s People’s Daily on July 14 issued a commentary that China had shown its ability to resolve the territorial issues through negotiations, as it quoted the agreement reached with Vietnam on the demarcation of maritime boundaries in the Gulf of Tonkin, as well as the ongoing negotiations with the Republic of Korea. The daily stated that China is a “faithful defender of the principle that countries large and small are equal and has consistently upheld using consultations to resolve border issues on the basis of sovereign equality and mutual respect.”