02/27/2024, 16.59
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South China Sea (anti-Beijing) border bill approved

by Stefano Vecchia

The Philippine Senate approved a bill covering a zone under Philippine jurisdiction to counter Chinese claims. The bill aligns the country with a 2016 ruling by a UN court. In the past several years, various countries have had claims in the highly strategic region for international trade.

Milan (AsiaNews) – The Philippine Senate yesterday approved a bill that delineates the maritime areas that fall under Philippine jurisdiction, an important step to counter the claims by other countries, especially China, in the West Philippine Sea, which is the part of the South China Sea that Manila considers to be within its exclusive economic zone under international law.

The move is also meant to ensure compliance with the 2016 ruling by the UN Permanent Court of Arbitration that dismissed Chinese claims, including areas de facto occupied, built up, and militarised by Beijing, ignoring Philippine grievances.

Law No. 2492 lays out the Philippines' rights over areas where it exercises sovereignty and jurisdiction under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) and other international laws and treaties.

These include Chinese-built artificial islands and installations within the Philippine Exclusive Economic Zone, as the bill’s sponsor, Senator Francis Tolentino, noted at a press conference.

China’s persistent pressures are not only designed to consolidate and expand its presence close to the Philippines in resource-rich waters on which Manila relies to develop its economy, but they also threaten the world's most important maritime trade route.

For Philippine maritime expert Jay Batongbacal, the bill’s passage “marks a significant milestone in the country’s long and difficult quest toward effectively managing our seas.

The law approved yesterday was long in the making, taking 40 years for approval to align Philippine legislation with international laws and rules.

The bill, which was approved by the House of Representatives in May 2023, could soon be submitted to the United Nations to be recognised by other countries.

The aim is to solidify the Philippine position in a delicate matter that might spark tensions and result in an arms race and armed confrontation between China and the United States and its allies, the latter willing to ensure free access to the area against Chinese claims to a vast portion of the South China Sea, a region subject to claims from other countries in the area.

(Photo: Philippine Coast Guard)

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