Philippine ambassador: Philippines will never resort to military force on South China Sea issues

Source: China Military OnlineEditor: Yao Jianing
2016-04-12 17:46

BEIJING, April 12 (ChinaMil) -- "Philippines will never resort to military force on the South China Sea issue," said Philippine ambassador to China when answering reporter's question at an international seminar held in Beijing on April 11, 2016.

The seminar is to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the establishment of China-ASEAN partnership. ASEAN deputy secretary-general, ten ASEAN countries' ambassadors to China, scholars and experts as well as government officials attended the seminar. Our reporter interviewed some representatives from the Philippines about the South China Sea issue.

China-Philippine relations is in a slump in recent years due to the South China Sea dispute. Despite strong opposition from China, the Philippines submitted the South China Sea dispute to the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea who does not even have relevant jurisdiction. Recently, some actions by the Philippines in the waters near the South China Sea exacerbated such tensions.

Erlinda Basilio, Philippine ambassador to China, said the recent U.S.-Philippine joint military exercises are not “targeted on China".

She said that the Philippines was a former U.S. colony and the two countries have formed alliance for a long time and will hold joint military exercises every year. The Philippines loves peace and advocates resolving the issue through dialogues. "The Philippines will never resort to military force on South China Sea issues," stressed Erlinda Basilio.

On the "arbitration" of the South China Sea issue, China has repeatedly stressed that China and the Philippines had consensus to resolve disputes through negotiations and consultations. The promotion of arbitration by force is a serious violation of China's national sovereignty and a violation of legitimate rights of signatory countries of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea. However, the Philippines still insisted on the ruling by the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea.

Basilio explained that the "arbitration" is just an attempt and the Philippines will still have dialogues with China.

She stressed that the Philippines and China should continue to promote communication and cooperation. The Philippines is honored that Chinese President Xi Jinping attended last year's APEC summit held in the Philippines and the Philippines thought it was a very friendly gesture.

Philippine think tank scholar: "arbitration" closed the doors for dialogue

Aries Arugay, a Philippine think tank scholar and the executive director of the Institute for Strategic and Development Studies, said in the interview that Southeast Asian countries are accusing each other of the South China Sea "militarization" and they are increasing military spending, especially South-East Asian claimants to the sea. Such practice is not conducive to regional stability.

Arugay pointed out that the Philippines is a relatively small and poor country. This country should invest limited resources in domestic education and infrastructure. But now, it has continued to increase military spending over the South China Sea issue.

In the past, the Philippine military focused primarily on domestic Muslim anti-government rebels, he said. In recent years, due to the increase of claims to the sea, the Philippine military began to turn their eyes to the region.

He added that few people would talk about the concept of the South China Sea "sovereignty" and "claimants" ten to twenty years ago, but now it has become the focus of all countries and become an important factor for the tense situation in the region. All parties should be wary of this situation, said Arugay.

Arugay said that the Philippines submitted the South China Sea issue for "arbitration" without consultations with ASEAN countries and consideration of the interests of all parties, which shut down the doors for dialogue with other countries.

If the Philippine government chose dialogue and communication in the first place, things will be different, said Arugay.

He also noted that the general election is currently ongoing in the Philippines and perhaps the new president will take a different attitude to the South China Sea issue.

Among the four presidential candidates in the Philippines, three have said that they are willing to engage in dialogues with China on the South China Sea issue.

Arugay said this is a good trend and therefore, he is optimistic about the development of China-Philippine relations over South China Sea issues.

The author is Zhang’ao from the Global Times. The opinions expressed here are those of the writer and don't represent views of the China Military Online website.

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