CHINESE militia vessels’ swarming of Julian Felipe reef is the latest incursion-action of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) to occupy the low-tide feature within the Philippine exclusive economic zone (EEZ).
The Liberal Party (LP), in a statement, said as early as March 2021, China has undertaken the same swarming strategy in the guise of sheltering from a storm.
Clearly, the swarming activity continues, signifying another island-building project being planned by China for the occupation of another low-tide feature in the Spratly Islands.
China must not be allowed to build another island in the Spratly Islands and within the PH EEZ. Aggressive diplomatic efforts must be undertaken to prevent China’s clear intentions, the LP added.
The PH should consider filing another case against China under the United Nations Commission on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) arbitral mechanism, this time outlining China’s illegal activities in the WPS and its continuing violation of international law since the promulgation of the July 2016 decision of the UNCLOS arbitral tribunal in the case of Philippines versus China.
At the same time, the PH should initiate maritime patrol and surveillance activities in WPS flashpoint features with the US Navy within the framework of the Mutual Defense Treaty (MDT) and Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA), LP said.
Clearly, China only recognizes naval power, not the rule of law. It must be reminded that its naval power cannot be used to appropriate what does not belong to China whether in the past, present or future.
China must learn that it cannot maintain a responsible leadership position in the international community even as it continues to blatantly violate international law and make outrageous maritime claims that have no basis whatsoever whether in law or in history.
Eventually China will learn this is to its advantage because there will always be larger boats around, bigger than China’s, and only international law also prevents its own naval forces illegally staying in the WPS from being swarmed, in turn, by these larger boats.
The point is no country can ever be strong enough to live outside the law.