PH rejects China’s 2 declared districts in South China Sea

PH rejects China's 2 declared districts in South China Sea
China’s self-declared Sansha City (Image from Global Times)

The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said on Thursday the Philippines strongly protested China’s illegal declaration of its two new administrative districts in the South China Sea.

DFA said the country rejects China’s establishment of so-called Nansha and Xisha districts, which are under the governance of its self-declared “Sansha City,” which is located south of Hainan province.

The Philippines calls Nansha as the Spratly Islands or the Kalayaan Group of Islands. China claimed Nansha District includes islands and reefs of the Nansha Islands and their adjacent waters on April 18.

The Xisha district meanwhile covers Xisha or Paracel Islands, which was disputed by China and Vietnam. Xisha also included the Zhongsha Islands, which also cover the Scarborough Shoal, claimed by the Philippines as Panatag Shoal.

“The establishment and supposed extent of jurisdiction of ‘Sansha City’ of which the new two districts are part, violate Philippine territorial sovereignty over the Kalayaan Island Group and Bajo de Masinloc (Scarborough Shoal), and infringes on Philippine sovereign rights over the waters and continental shelf in the West Philippine Sea,” the DFA said.

DFA also called on the “illegal” designation of Kagitingan Reef or Fiery Cross Reef as the administrative center for the Nansha district.

PH rejects China’s 2 declared districts in South China Sea

“Kagitingan Reef is within the Kalayaan Island Group and is thus an integral part of Philippine territory,” the DFA reiterated.

“The Philippines calls on China to adhere to international law, including the UNCLOS, as well as to the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea, specifically Paragraph 5 thereof, under which undertake to self-restraint in the conduct of activities that would complicate or escalate disputes and affect peace and stability,” the DFA added.

Last week, DFA filed two diplomatic protests against China over its recent activities in the West Philippine Sea that violated both international law and Philippine sovereignty.

“The Chinese embassy received 2 diplomatic protests: 1. on the pointing of a radar gun at a Philippine Navy ship in Philippine waters and 2. declaring parts of Philippine territory as part of Hainan province,” Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. wrote on Twitter.

Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana meanwhile said he thinks China meant no harm when its warship pointed a radar gun at the Philippine Navy vessel in February 2020.