MANILA — The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) on Friday welcomed the United States' criticism of China's territorial claims in the South China Sea, noting that their report supports the country's arbitral win in the disputed waters.
Last week, the US State Department said in its report titled Limits in the Seas that China's claims in the South China Sea “gravely undermine the rule of law in the oceans.”
The report also dismissed the Asian power's historical rights in the resource-rich waterways, saying the term is meaningless.
"We welcome the affirmation of the 2016 Arbitral Award by the US State Department's Limits in the Seas No. 150... This is consistent with the Philippines-US Joint Vision Statement issued [last year]" the DFA statement read.
"[This] states that the People's Republic of China's (PRC) expansive maritime claims in the South China Sea are inconsistent with the international law of the sea as reflected in the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, and with the unanimous [2016 Arbitral Award]" it added.
The agency also emphasized that the July 2016 Arbitral Win is "legally binding on the Philippines and China."
Beijing maintains a constant presence of coastguard and fishing boats in the international waterway, within which is the West Philippine Sea, to assert its claim of sovereignty, including hundreds in the Spratly islands, where the country, Brunei, Taiwan, Vietnam and Malaysia also have claims.
This is despite the Arbitral Tribunal in 2016 concluding that there was no legal basis for China to claim economic rights to resources within the sea areas falling within its so-called "nine-dash line.”
China, however, has refused to recognize the Award, calling it “illegal, null and void.”
The Philippines has so far filed at least 200 diplomatic notes against China since President Rodrigo Duterte came to power amid continuing incursions in the country's waters, the DFA had said.
Duterte however is vocal about improving Philippines' ties with China.
— With a report from South China Morning Post