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In the strongest comments made so far, the Solicitor General in the Philippines has claimed the South China Sea ruling as a 'crowning glory.' The comments are bound to anger China further.
Solicitor General Jose Calida said on Friday that the decision by the UN-backed Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) in The Hague was a "crowning glory" that renews faith in international law. His comments follow two days of cautious comments in response to the ruling.
"We value the award given by the (tribunal), and the Philippines will not concede any of the awards given to us," Calida said.
The PCA ruled on Tuesday that Beijing's claims to much of the strategically vital South China Sea have no legal foundation in a case filed by the Philippines. It declared large areas of the sea to be neutral international waters or the exclusive economic zones of other countries.
The tribunal also ruled Beijing had violated the Philippines' sovereign rights to exploit resources in waters up to 340 kilometres (230 miles) beyond its coast; its exclusive economic zone.
South China Sea
China claims much of the South China Sea, through which more than $5 trillion (4.49 trillion euros) of trade moves annually. Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines, Taiwan and Vietnam have rival claims.
Beijing has rejected the PCA tribunal's ruling, with President Xi Jinping saying China's "territorial sovereignty and marine rights" in the seas will not be affected.
But Solicitor General Calida said the ruling "confirms that no one state can claim virtually an entire sea. The award is a historic win not only for the Philippines ... it renews humanity's faith in a rules based global order," he told a forum on the South China Sea on Friday. "The award opens a horizon of possibilities for all stakeholders. The award is a crowning glory of international law."
'War is not an option'
Speaking at the regional ASEM summit in Mongolia on Friday, Philippine Foreign Minister Perfecto Yasay said Manila "strongly affirms its respect for the milestone decision" while reiterating his call for "restraint and sobriety."
Also attending the ASEM summit, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe agreed with Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc that the PCA tribunal ruling must be observed, Japan's Kyodo news agency said on Friday.
Late on Thursday, Philippines' President Rodrigo Duterte had made his first comments on Tuesday's ruling, saying he wanted dialogue with China and was considering sending former President Fidel Ramos to Beijing as an envoy. "War is not an option," he said. "So, what is the other side? Peaceful talk."
The United States is a key Philippines ally and has encouraged Asian nations to avoid moving aggressively to capitalize on the court ruling.
US Admiral John Richardson is due to discuss the South China Sea among other issues when he meets China's navy commander, Admiral Wu Shengli, from Sunday on a three-day trip to "improve mutual understanding."
In April, Washington announced that US troops and military equipment would be sent on regular rotations in the Philippines and that the two countries had started joint patrols in the South China Sea.
In 2014, the US and Philippines signed an Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement allowing US forces access to and use of designated areas and facilities owned and controlled by the Armed Forces of the Philippines at the invitation of the Philippine Government. It contains clear provision that the US will not establish a permanent military presence or or base in the Philippines.
Chinese state media on Friday reported that China aims to launch a series of offshore nuclear power platforms to promote its development in the South China Sea.
jm/jl (Reuters, AFP)