Philippine Justice Carpio Urges Diplomacy in S. China Sea Disputes
Jakarta. A senior Philippine judge has called on government officials in other Southeast Asian states to persuade China that diplomacy is the best way to resolve border disputes in the South China Sea.
Justice Antonio T. Carpio, the senior associate justice of the Supreme Court of the Philippines, told the Jakarta Globe on Thursday that convincing China to comply with the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) remained the biggest challenge in tackling the South China Sea disputes.
“Every state in Asean” — the Association of Southeast Asian Nations — “must be able to convince [China] to do so,” he said.
The UNCLOS states that coastal nations have the right to establish sovereignty over adjacent waters out to a maximum of 12 nautical miles, or 22.2 kilometers, from the nation’s coastline, including the coastline of offshore islands.
China, however, rejects the notion that the UNCLOS can be used to decide South China Sea sovereignty issues, which it maintains is at the heart of its dispute with the Philippines.
China, which has the biggest military force of any of the nations currently embroiled in disputes over islands in the South China Sea, has taken an increasingly aggressive stance on its own territorial claims in the region.
It is currently working on the construction on five new islands on five different reefs, on one of which it plans to build an air base.
The Philippines and Vietnam, two of four Asean members involved in territorial disputes with China, have complained about such actions, which they deem as aggressive moves by Beijing.
At stake in the disputes, which also involve Brunei and Malaysia, are the rights to potentially vast deposits of oil and gas, as well as control of key international shipping routes.
Carpio said he believed that the disputes would eventually come to an end, though the resolutions might not be to the satisfaction of all the parties.
Carpio was in Jakarta to give a lecture before an audience put together by the Indonesian Council on World Affairs (ICWA).
The lecture strove to assess the merits of China’s claims over the waters and geologic features in the South China Sea within its so-called nine-dash lines, taking into account the Philippines Constitution, UNCLOS and international law.
Indonesia has no conflicting claim with China to any part of the South China Sea, although the nine-dash line appears to cut through its waters off the Natuna Islands.
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Source: The Jakarta Globe