PH has sent 60 diplomatic notes on WPS in last 5 years; China never ‘impolite’ in responding — Locsin

Published February 12, 2021, 3:58 PM

by Argyll Cyrus Geducos

Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr., said China has never been impolite in addressing the issues surrounding the West Philippine Sea raised by the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) in 60 diplomatic notes filed to China in the past five years.

Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. (PCOO / MANILA BULLETIN)

Locsin made the statement after the DFA issued a statement updating the public on the recent development in the West Philippine Sea on Friday, Chinese New Year.

According to the DFA, under the Duterte Administration, the DFA has filed a total of 60 diplomatic notes to China and of these, 45 were issued under Locsin’s tenure.

To date, China has only addressed issues raised in 48 diplomatic notes.

In a tweet, Locsin said that China sometimes answered issues raised in several diplomatic notes.

“In some cases, one response addressed issues raised in several diplomatic notes. They are never impolite in my experience,” he said Friday, February 12.

Engaging China

Under Locsin’s leadership, the DFA said it has been “assiduously protesting” every infringement on Philippine territory and its sovereign rights, as well as Chinese actions that amount to provocation, threats, or coercion.

“The DFA raises the [South China Sea] issue in ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) and other fora. But bilaterally, we also engage China through the Bilateral Consultation Mechanism on the South China Sea (BCM),” the DFA wrote in its report.

“We discuss developments and actions of concern, but also explore avenues for practical cooperation. The next BCM meeting is slated for March or April this year,” it added.

Among others, the DFA protested the following issues last year:

  • China’s aiming of a fire-control radar against a Philippine Naval vessel
  • Unlawful radio challenges against Philippine air and maritime assets patrolling Philippine waters, legitimately
  • Maritime scientific research (MSR) by Chinese vessels in Philippine waters without consent
  • China’s presumptuous establishment of two “new districts” (Xisha and Nansha) in the South China Sea.

A threat

The Philippines, on January 27, 2021, issued a note verbale to China, becoming the first country to lodge a diplomatic protest against China’s Coast Guard Law.

“The Philippines strongly opposed any application China’s Coast Guard Law beyond the limits of China’s maritime entitlements under international law, including the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) and the 2016 Award on the South China Sea arbitration,” the DFA wrote in its report.

While acknowledging China’s right as a sovereign nation to enact laws, the DFA said that the coverage of China’s claims in the disputed waters “directly poses a threat” to the conduct of Philippine legitimate activities in the West Philippine Sea, which is the DFA described as “acquiescence” if unchallenged.

Meanwhile, in an interview with CNN Philippines, Chinese Ambassador to the Philippines Huang Xilian said that the China Coast Guard “will not take strong measures against any fisherman — before or after the formulation of the law.”