The Philippine Star

Only China doing bullying in SCS – Carpio


While President Marcos agreed with China that no one should dictate on those involved in the South China Sea disputes, a former senior associate justice of the Supreme Court asserted it is only Beijing that is “bullying” claimant-countries in the resource-rich internatio­nal waters.

Retired justice Antonio Carpio was reacting to a recent remark by the Chinese Foreign Ministry, that the Philippine­s and China should reject “acts of bullying” and stick to “friendly consultati­on” in dealing with disputes.

“We all know that it is only China, and no other country, that is bullying Vietnam, Malaysia, the Philippine­s and even Indonesia in the South China Sea. And it is only China that has a hegemonist­ic claim to almost the entire South China Sea,” Carpio told The STAR last Saturday in reaction to the newspaper’s report.

He noted that there was no official Philippine statement declaring that President Marcos had agreed with the Chinese embassy’s statement calling for a rejection of “bullying” in the South China Sea.

Carpio was part of the legal team that argued the Philippine­s’ case against China before The Hague-based Permanent Court of Arbitratio­n (PCA) in 2012.

In 2016, the PCA ruled in favor of the Philippine­s, invalidati­ng Beijing’s nine-dash line claim over the South China Sea.

China refuses to recognize the arbitral ruling.

Asked by the Philippine media delegation in Bangkok, Thailand on Saturday to react to the Chinese Foreign Ministry’s statement, Marcos said: “Well, I suppose maybe the term bullying is not exactly accurate, but I would characteri­ze it as something different.”

“I would say that as part of our foreign policy – and this is something again that I spoke to our other partners with – what we really should pursue is that we should make sure that we in the region are the ones who will decide the future of the region,” he said.

“Let us not allow anyone to dictate on us. Maybe that’s what the Chinese were referring to,” Marcos said.

Marcos met Chinese President Xi Jinping on the sidelines of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperatio­n (APEC) Summit in Bangkok, Thailand on Thursday, but two statements released by the Office of the Press Secretary made no mention of tensions in the disputed West Philippine Sea.

This was the first meeting between the two leaders. Marcos is also set to visit China in January for a state visit.

The Philippine­s has been demanding China to adhere to internatio­nal laws, including the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea and the 2016 arbitral ruling, which invalidate­d Beijing’s sweeping claims in the South China Sea.

The Philippine­s has filed several diplomatic protests against China over its vessels’ illegal presence in the West Philippine Sea.

In a statement released during the APEC leaders’ summit, Xi said the Asia-Pacific region is “no one’s backyard” and should not become “an arena for big power contest,” an apparent jab at the US.

The phrase “acts of bullying” is usually used by the US and its allies to describe China’s actions in the South China Sea.

“No attempt to wage a new cold war will ever be allowed by the people or by our times,” Xi said.

Aside from the Philippine­s and China, Brunei, Malaysia, Vietnam and Taiwan also have claims in the South China Sea, which is believed to hold large reserves of oil and natural gas. More than $5 trillion in trade passes through the South China Sea every year.

Marcos earlier described his meeting with Xi in Bangkok as “getting-to-know-you,” adding that “details” that need to be discussed between the Philippine­s and China will be taken up during his visit there next year.

The President also told Xi that the Philippine­s is not in a “Cold War mindset” in its relations with other countries, and expressed solidarity with the Chinese leader for the early completion of a binding code of conduct (COC) in the South China Sea “to help manage difference­s and regional tensions.”

The Associatio­n of Southeast Asian Nations and China failed anew to come up with a COC that will manage the territoria­l disputes and govern nations’ behavior in the disputed waters at the recent ASEAN Summit in Phnom Penh, Cambodia.

Marcos, in a media interview on Nov. 9, said he would like to tackle the COC with Xi.

“It’s impossible for me to talk to China without mentioning that,” the President said.

The DFA, in a recent statement, said the maritime dispute between the Philippine­s and China does not define the totality of their relations.

During his meeting with Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi in Malacañang in July, Marcos said the West Philippine Sea is not the only thing that the Philippine­s and China should talk about.

In his first State of the Nation Address in July, the President vowed not to give away even an inch of the country’s territory to any foreign power even as he committed to pursue an independen­t foreign policy, where the Philippine­s is “a friend to all, and an enemy to none.”

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Philippines