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Philippines, Indonesia foreign ministers tackle maritime row with China

Publication Date : 18-07-2014

 

The two largest archipelagos in Southeast Asia, Philippines and Indonesia, discussed the continuing maritime disputes with China in the South China Sea which has caused tensions to rise.

Philippine Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert Del Rosario visited Jakarta on last July 15 and met with Indonesian Foreign Minister R.M. Marty Natalegawa where the issue of China’s aggressive territorial claims in the South China Sea was discussed.

“The two sides also exchanged views on regional and international issues, including the current situation in the South China Sea,” DFA said in a statement Thursday.

“Both ministers reaffirmed their commitment to work towards the full and effective implementation of the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea, the early conclusion of a regional Code of Conduct in the South China Sea, and the de-escalation of rising tensions in the South China Sea,” it said.

Del Rosario updated his Indonesian counterpart on the progress of the Philippine’s arbitration case against China before the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (Unclos).

 

China claims nearly 90 per cent of the entire South China Sea as part of its territory including portions of the Philippines’ 200-nautical mile exclusive economic zone (EEZ) through its nine-dash-line claim.

The Spratly group of Islands off the coast of Palawan is included in China’s claim as well as Scarborough Shoal off the coast of Zambales even though these are hundreds of miles away from China’s nearest landmass, Hainan.

The Declaration of Conduct signed by members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) and China in 2002 states that countries involved in disputes should “exercise self-restraint in the conduct of activities that would complicate or escalate disputes and affect peace and stability including, among others, refraining from action of inhabiting on the presently uninhabited islands, reefs, shoals, cays, and other features.”

China, however, was found conducting reclamation activities in several reefs in the Spratly Islands believed to be for the establishment of military bases.
China has also had several brief engagements with Vietnam over its deployment of an oil rig in the disputed Paracel Islands.

Indonesia and Philippines last May signed a maritime delimitation agreement over a 20-year border dispute between the two countries which was hailed as a model for international disputes.

Though not a claimant to any maritime features in the South China Sea, Indonesia is the largest and most economically advanced country in the Southeast Asian region.

Del Rosario and Natalegawa also discussed actions to further deepen Philippines-Indonesia cooperation, especially in the political, economic, defense, maritime, and socio-cultural fields. The two Ministers took up multilateral issues, including how to maintain Asean centrality.

 

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