By Manuel Mogato
MANILA (Reuters) – Philippine Foreign Secretary Perfecto Yasay called on China on Thursday to respect maritime law and security as well as the rule of law, to resolve disputes in both the South China Sea and the East China Sea.
Yasay met with his Japanese counterpart, Fumio Kishida, in the Philippines to discuss regional security and cooperation on maritime security, with Japan reaffirming its help which includes vessels and aircraft.
“We … urge China to make sure that maritime law and security must be completely and uncompromisingly respected,” Yasay told a news conference, adding the Philippines and Japan shared experiences in the South China Sea and East China Sea.
China claims almost the entire South China Sea where about $5 trillion worth of trade passes every year. Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines, Taiwan and Vietnam also have claims on the sea believed to have rich deposits of oil and gas.
Japan has no claim in the South China Sea but it is in dispute with China over small islands in the East China Sea.
In the South China Sea, Chinese land reclamation and construction on contested reefs over the past year have raised alarm in the region and beyond.
The United States, its Southeast Asian allies and Japan have questioned China’s activity, particularly since an international court last month rejected China’s historic claims to most of the South China Sea.
China says it has “indisputable sovereignty” over the area it claims and has refused to recognize the court ruling on a case brought by the Philippines.
Japan called on China to adhere to the ruling, saying it was binding, prompting a warning from China not to interfere.
“This is not the kind of action that is mandated by international law,” Yasay told the news conference, referring to what he said the Philippines and Japan saw as Chinese intimidation and provocation in connection with their disputes.
“Everyone must respect our maritime order and security in this area in the South China Sea and East China Sea and we urge them to respect the rule of law.”
Japan last weekend reported a flurry of incursions by Chinese vessels into what Japan sees as its waters near the disputed East China Sea islands that it controls.
Kishida said Japan would maintain its support to the Philippines with the delivery next week of the first of 10 coastguard vessels. Japan is also leasing the Philippines four TD-90 surveillance aircraft.
“Maritime order based on the rule of law is indispensable for the region’s stability and prosperity,” Kishida said.
(Reporting by Manuel Mogato; Editing by Robert Birsel)