MANILA — The Philippine government on Thursday accused China of resorting to name-calling as it lacks the response to defend its “unlawful” claims in the South China Sea.
Manila’s statement came after a Chinese Communist Party-affiliated tabloid, Global Times, labeled the Philippines a “cute little submissive” of the United States after the two treaty allies launched this week a massive 10-day war games between their militaries.
“Unable to defend their unlawful position both on the core issue which is the nine-dash line claim and their unilateral and aggressive activities, our northern neighbor has reduced its lack of response to name-calling once again,” DFA spokesman Charles Jose said.
Instead of hurling insults, Jose said what China should be doing is “to accord their positions and actions with the 2002 conduct of parties in the South China Sea and international law.”
Jose was referring to the 13-year-old declaration on the South China Sea that was signed by China and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, which include the Philippines, that calls on all claimant states to the resource-rich waters to stop actions, such as occupation and construction of features that will escalate tensions in the area.
Vietnam, Malaysia and Brunei, the three other claimants to the South China Sea, are likewise members of the ASEAN, which also includes Singapore, Thailand, Indonesia, Cambodia, Laos and Myanmar
China is reclaiming seven reefs in the South China Sea and has turned them into artificial islands, raising fears that Beijing is building military outposts to maintain its stronghold in the waters.
The Philippines, along with several countries like the US, Japan, Australia and the European Union, have expressed concern on China’s activities, fearing it would impede access and trade in one of the world’s busiest shipping lanes.
A defiant China, which claims 90 percent of the waters, defended the reclamation, saying all its activities are done within the boundaries of its sovereign and legal jurisdiction.
Manila, which challenged China’s assertion before an arbitral tribunal in The Hague, Netherlands, says Beijing claims and reclamation work are “excessive” and “illegal.”
China refused to join the proceedings and belittled the Philippine case, saying it lacks basis and legal merit.