MANILA - The Philippines welcomes the opposition of foreign ministers from the Group of Seven (G7) advanced economies to "provocation" in the disputed East and South China Seas, the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said Tuesday.
According to the DFA, the G7 foreign ministers' statement upholds the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), and also reaffirms the need to ensure peace, stability, freedom of navigation and overflight, and to adhere to the rule of law in the South China Sea or West Philippine Sea.
"The Philippines advocates a peaceful, rules-based approach to the disputes in the South China Sea. In this regard, it welcomes the G7 Ministers' call for all 'states to pursue the peaceful management and settlement of maritime disputes in good faith and in accordance with international law, including through applicable internationally recognized legal dispute settlement mechanisms, including arbitration, recognizing that the use of such mechanisms is consistent with the rule of law, and to fully implement any decisions rendered by relevant courts and tribunals which are binding on them, including as provided under UNCLOS,'" the DFA said.
The G7 foreign ministers on Monday said they oppose "any intimidating coercive or provocative unilateral actions that could alter the status quo and increase tensions" in the East and South China Seas, where China is locked in territorial disputes with nations including the Philippines, Vietnam and Japan.
China, for its part, expressed anger over the G7's statement, saying member-states should honor their commitment of not taking sides on issues involving territorial disputes.
China claims almost the entire South China Sea, believed to have huge deposits of oil and gas, and is building islands on reefs to bolster its claims. Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines, Taiwan and Vietnam also have claims to parts of the waters, through which about $5 trillion in trade is shipped every year.
"The Philippines fully shares the G7 Foreign Ministers' 'strong opposition to any intimidating, coercive or provocative unilateral actions that could alter the status quo and increase tensions, and urge all states to refrain from such actions as land reclamations including large scale ones, building of outposts, as well as their use for military purposes and to act in accordance with international law including the principles of freedoms of navigation and overflight,'" the DFA said.
"This underscores the critical importance of ensuring the full and effective implementation of the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea, as well as the need for Parties to urgently conclude negotiations on the Code of Conduct," it added. - With Reuters