Il fallait bien que je vous en parle un jour, cela va bientôt faire un mois que ça dure et il s’agit tout de même de bateaux de guerre qui se font face dans une zone disputée qui se situe à moins de 130 Nautical Miles des côtes de la façade ouest de la grande île philippine de Luzon.

Le ton monte et la Chine menace.
Aux dernières nouvelles les Philippines seraient chinoises, une partie du territoire chinois !

Believing that the world is watching China’s behavior in Panatag (Scarborough) Shoal, the Philippines declared yesterday it will bring its territorial dispute with China to the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea (ITLOS).

Manila said it will “unilaterally” seek ITLOS’ intervention if China will not join it in submitting their claims and defending their respective positions before the United Nations-backed tribunal.
Foreign Affairs spokespman Raul Hernandez said China violated the agreement with the Philippines not to undertake any action that would aggravate and escalate the situation in Panatag Shoal, by deploying more ships in addition to the two Chinese maritime vessels involved in a standoff with a Philippine Coast Guard ship.

Hernandez emphasized that the world is watching what is happening in Panatag.

“As (Foreign Affairs) Secretary (Albert) del Rosario was saying, the world knows that China has more ships and more airplanes than the Philippines and we can’t compete in this manner. We can’t solve this case in this manner,” Hernandez said in a press briefing.

He added, “We understand that the world is watching and the issue at hand has a wider implication on how China'
is asserting its territorial claims, which have no basis in international law, so we hope that China will behave as a responsible member of the international community.”

He said that the Philippines, a civilized nation, is trying to explore all avenues and invited China to go to ITLOS as the proper and competent forum to decide on the dispute.
“If China would not join us to go to ITLOS, then our legal team is preparing to go to ITLOS unilaterally in order to have this resolved in that proper forum,” Hernandez said.

China rejected the Philippines’ invitation to go to ITLOS, saying the issue should be resolved through a diplomatic solution.
“That’s why what we need to do is to wait for the confirmation when we meet again for a meeting on this issue,” he said.

The Philippine side will demand an answer and explanation from China for deploying additional vessels and an aircraft, which is in violation of the agreement.

Del Rosario and Chinese Ambassador Ma Keqing agreed not to aggravate the situation by any action.

“And we think this is an action that aggravates and escalates the tension, so in our next talk we’ll ask China why  they’re trying to do this. We’ll ask them to clarify why they have violated our agreement not to escalate, not to aggravate this situation in the Panatag Shoal,” he said.

The Philippines admitted that the country could not compete with China in terms of ships and aircraft but it is confident it can defend its claims and position before the ITLOS.

Hernandez said China will also be asked about its sincerity in seeking a diplomatic solution to the issue.
Three foreign vessels and two small boats were spotted on Wednesday in Panatag Shoal, the same day Philippine-commissioned MT Sarangani left the area after conducting an archeological survey.

China maintained that the Panatag Shoal dispute should be resolved through “friendly” consultations but its actions are contrary to its declaration.

Chinese embassy spokesman Zhang Hua urged the Philippines not to aggravate the incident but he stressed China’s commitment to settle the dispute through friendly consultations.
“We want friendly efforts to solve it,” he told.

The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) is firm that the claims should be submitted to the ITLOS where both countries will defend their position.
Del Rosario said China and the Philippines should proceed to ITLOS for a “legal” and “lasting” resolution instead of a diplomatic solution which would most likely be temporary.

The Philippines refuted China’s historical claim in a Philippine position paper on Bajo de Masinloc and the waters within its vicinity.

Bajo de Masinloc (Panatag Shoal) is not an island and is not part of the Spratlys, making the current action of the Chinese surveillance vessels in the Philippines’ Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) inconsistent with its right of freedom of navigation and in violation of the sovereign rights of the Philippines under United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), it said.

China is claiming Bajo de Masinloc to have been discovered by the Yuan Dynasty based on historical arguments and reflected on various official Chinese maps and named by China in various official documents.
But the Philippines said Chinese assertion based on historical claims must be substantiated by a clear historic title.


Presidential Communications Development and Strategic Planning Office Secretary Ricky Carandang, meanwhile, said it would be up to the DFA to decide whether the Philippines could unilaterally bring the case to the ITLOS.

“As I said earlier this week, for two countries to face the international tribunal requires the consent of both parties.

Now if one party does not, we have to study what we can do on our own. And I believe the DFA is already studying possible actions,” he said.

Carandang also warned China yesterday that its actions in Panatag Shoal could have implications on the region’s security and stability as well as on the claims of other countries in the West Philippine Sea.
He said there was no reason for the Philippines to get intimidated by China’s deployment of a gunboat to Bajo de Masinloc because the dispute over the area involved not only the Philippines but the whole region.

“We will not be intimidated.

The Philippines may be a small country but we have a principle that we are fighting for,” Carandang said. “This is not just for the Philippines but for the good of the whole region.”

Asked if the Philippines is capable of defending its territory, Carandang said: “I will not answer that question categorically. I think we have an idea what the state of our Armed Forces is and what our capabilities are.
But let me say this: There is full of examples of small countries that have fought for their rights and have succeeded. So we may be a small country but this is our national pride we’re talking about, so it’s not something that we could surrender.”

Carandang said the Aquino government would continue to talk with Chinese authorities as the Philippines is determined to find a peaceful solution to the issue.

“But we’re also equally determined to assert our sovereignty over what is our territory. And I’d like to add also, while this issue has immediate implications for us and for China, it also has long-term implications for the rest of the region – for stability in the region. If the Philippines loses this, this will have implications for other countries which have competing claims with China, particularly those affected by the nine-dash line. So this might look like an issue between the Philippines and China alone but actually the implications of this have effects on other countries around the region,” Carandang said, referring to China’s nine-dash theory claiming the whole of the West Philippine Sea.

Carandang said the Palace would leave the tactical decisions of what to do next following China’s aggressive actions to the security officials.

On the possible arrest of those encroaching into Philippine waters, Carandang said: “I think you all understand this is a delicate situation and nobody wants to escalate tensions to the point where we will do something that we’ll regret later on.

“So the decision of whether or not we will more forcefully enforce our laws within our boundaries is, I think, more of a political and diplomatic question at this point. So we’re not going to look at it simply from the legal point of view. We have to study our actions based on the implications diplomatically and politically,” he said.                          

(fin de la partie 1/3, end of part 1/3)

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