DFA summons China envoy, demands immediate withdrawal of Chinese vessels in West PHL Sea

PHL “utmost displeasure” expressed over “illegal lingering presence of Chinese vessels in Julian Felipe Reef”

(FILES) In this file photo taken on March 31, 2021 this handout photo from the National Task Force-West Philippine Sea (NTF-WPS) via the Philippine Communications Operations Office (PCOO) shows Chinese vessels anchored at Whitsun Reef, some 320 kilometres (175 nautical miles) west of Palawan Island in the South China Sea. – The United States on April 7, 2021 warned China against what the Philippines and Taiwan see as increasingly aggressive moves, reminding Beijing of Washington’s obligations to its partners. (Photo by Handout / various sources / AFP) / RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE – MANDATORY CREDIT “AFP PHOTO / National Task Force-West Philippine Sea (NTF-WPS) via Philippine Communications Operations Office (PCOO)”


(Eagle News) — The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said it had summoned Chinese Ambassador to the Philippines Huang Xilian on Monday, April 12, to express the Philippines’ “utmost displeasure” over the “illegal lingering presence of Chinese vessels” in the Julian Felipe Reef.”

In a statement, the DFA stressed that the “continuing presence of Chinese vessels around the Reef is a source of regional tension” and demanded for China to immediately remove their vessels in the area,

The department informed the Chinese ambassador of the Philippines’ “firm demand of the Philippines that China ensure the immediate departure of all its vessels from the area of Julian Felipe Reef and other maritime zones of the Philippines.”

“DFA Acting Undersecretary Elizabeth P. Buensuceso informed Ambassador Huang that Julian Felipe Reef lies within the Exclusive Economic Zone of the Republic of the Philippines,” a DFA release said.

-2016 PHL Arbitral Ruling cited-

The DFA official also stressed that the Philippine award in the South Sea on July 12, 2016 Arbitration “ruled that claims to historic rights, or other sovereign rights or jurisdiction that exceed the geographic and substantive limits of maritime entitlements under UNCLOS, are without lawful effect.”

-Chinese officials reminded on proper decorum as guests of PHL-

The foreign affairs department also again reminded the Chinese side on the “proper decorum and manners in the conduct of their duties as guests of the Philippines.”

This is in reaction to what DFA called “untoward statements” of the Chinese embassy spokesperson on Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana.

On April 5, the Chinese embassy released a statement claiming that the Julian Felipe Reef which it called “Niu’e Jiao” was “part of China’s Nansha Islands” and repeated its position that it was “completely normal for Chinese fishing vessels to fish in the waters and take shelter near the reef during rough sea conditions.”

“Nobody has the right to make wanton remarks on such activities,” the Chinese embassy statement said.

It even called on Philippine officials to “avoid any unprofessional remarks which may further fan irrational emotions.”

The DFA earlier stressed that the Juan Felipe Reef is part of the Kalayaan Island Group and lies within the country’s exclusive economic zone.

“It is located 175 nautical miles west of Bataraza town in Palawan and 638.229 nautical miles from Hainan Island,” the DFA said.

The DFA also rejected the Chinese embassy’s claims that the area is part of China’s “traditional fishing grounds,” noting that “tradition yields to law.”

“The United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) — to which both the Republic of the Philippines and China are parties — and the final and binding 12 July 2016 Award in the South China Sea Arbitration are clearly the only norms applicable to this situation,” the DFA said.

On April 12, Monday, when the DFA summoned the Chinese ambassador, it stressed the Arbitration ruling on the matter.

-PHL, China agree on peaceful settlement in addressing differences-

The DFA said “both sides affirmed the use of peaceful settlement of disputes in addressing their differences” on the South China Sea/West Philippine Sea issue.

“In closing, the DFA reiterated the firm demand of the Philippines that China ensure the immediate departure of all its vessels from the area of Julian Felipe Reef and other maritime zones of the Philippines,” it said.

(Eagle News Service)