PH backs US call for other navies to visit China sea

"The Philippines reiterates its previous position that the United States' freedom of navigation operations in the South China Sea and similar actions are fully consistent with the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (Unclos) and the rule of law, of which the Philippines has been a staunch advocate," the Foreign Affairs Department said in a statement Monday. Foreign affairs spokesperson Charles Jose earlier said there is a collective need to protect and uphold international law in the South China Sea in response to "illegal, unilateral and expansive behavior that undermines security, not only in Asian region, but potentially for the whole world as well."

"Failure to challenge false claims of sovereignty would undermine this order and lead China to the false conclusion that its claims are accepted as a fait accompli," he said.

The Unclos is a guide for the behavior of countries in the world's oceans covering all marine activities and providing the definition of maritime zones; the establishment of boundaries; the assignment of duties and responsibilities of nations; as well as a machinery for the settlement of sea disputes.

In Sydney, US Navy's Seventh Fleet commander Vice Admiral Joseph Aucoin urged Australia to conduct its own "freedom of navigation" operations in high-level talks with defense leaders, which discussed growing concerns over China's military expansion in the South China Sea.

Beijing claims most of the South China Sea, through which more than $5 trillion in global trade passes yearly. Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei, the Philippines and Taiwan have rival claims.

Last month, a US Navy destroyer sailed within 12 nautical miles of Triton Island in the Parcels group, and in November, two B-52 bombers flew near the disputed territory. The air and sea patrols have angered Beijing.

In Australia, Aucoin said Australia and other allies should also send warships to conduct similar operations within 12 nautical miles of the disputed islands.

"What we're trying to ensure is that all countries, no matter size or strength, can pursue their interests based on the law of the sea and not have that endangered by some of these actions," reports quoted Aucoin as saying. "It's up to those countries, but I think it's in our best interests to make sure that those sea lines remain open."

Tensions in the region have been heightened by reports that China has installed surface-to-air missiles on Woody Island, part of the Paracels.

Source: The Standerd

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