PH protests South China Sea 'city'

MANILA, Philippines — No way, the Philippines says.

In a note verbale, the Philippines officially protested China's establishment of the prefectural-level Sansha City that governs contested portions of the South China Sea, the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said Thursday, July 5.

The Philippines handed the note verbale Wednesday, July 4, to China's ambassador to the Philippines, Ma Keqing. DFA spokesperson Raul Hernandez said Sansha City's jurisdiction "violates Philippine territorial sovereignty over the Kalayaan Island Group (Spratly Islands) and Bajo de Masinloc," the Philippines' official name for Scarborough Shoal.

In late June, China established Sansha City to administer the 3 disputed island groups of Nansha (Spratly Islands), Xisha (Paracel Islands), and Zhongsha (Macclesfield Bank). The new city also covers the 3 island groups' surrounding waters.

The Philippines claims portions of the Spratly Islands while Macclesfield Bank includes Scarborough Shoal, the site of a 3-month standoff between the Philippines and China. (Read: South China Sea under new Chinese city.)

Relaying the note verbale's contents, Hernandez said Sansha City "infringes on Philippine sovereign rights over the waters and continental shelf of the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea)."

"The declaration on the establishment of Sansha City contradicts the spirit of the Declaration on the Code of Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea. The Philippines reiterates that the KIG and Bajo de Masinloc, and the waters and continental shelf around them, form an integral part of Philippine territory and maritime jurisdiction," Hernandez added.

Despite protests, China plans to establish military presence in Sansha, Beijing's Defense Ministry said last week. (Read: China eyes military in South China Sea 'city.'— Rappler.com


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Paterno R. Esmaquel II

Paterno R. Esmaquel II is a senior reporter leading Rappler’s coverage of religion and foreign affairs. He finished MA Journalism in Ateneo and MSc Asian Studies (Religions in Plural Societies) at RSIS, Singapore. For story ideas or feedback, email him at pat.esmaquel@rappler.com.

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