NEW ZEALAND (DWDD) – Philippine Ambassador to New Zealand Jesus S. Domingo replied to an article by China’s Ambassador to New Zealand on their claims to the South China Sea.
According to Amb Domingo, the Philippines and China have enjoyed excellent relations spanning recorded history. Many Filipinos including him have a degree of Chinese ancestry, and it is a great source of pride and joy for me to see that there are many Kiwis of Asian descent in New Zealand, both Chinese and Filipino.
China’s spectacular rise as an economic and political powerhouse, complementing its ancient cultural leadership, inspires everone in the Asia-Pacific. This all-encompassing leadership in the community of nations is rightly recognised in the United Nations system through China’s permanent membership of the UN Security Council.
Accordingly, China’s pronouncements on global issues usually make reference to international law and the UN system.
The recent article by his colleague H.E. Wang Lutong, Ambassador of China to New Zealand ( Herald, June 14), cites the case filed by the Philippines before the Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) with regard to territorial disputes in the South China Sea/West Philippine Sea.
Domingo focused on a main point of his op-ed piece that “China does not accept that the arbitration case instigated by the Philippines is an exercise of rights under international law”. In sum, the act of filing of the case before the PCA is questioned.
In terms of military capabilities, the Philippines is quite the David to its neighbouring Goliath. Manila, instead, seek recourse to the rule of law, to international law, the very underpinning of the present global system. The Philippines action also follows the dictum of one of its President Ramon Magsaysay, who said: “Those who have less in life should have more in law.”
Domingo did not wish to reiterate the specific merits of the PCA case – readers may be already aware of the details or can readily reference them. He would just like to simply respond to the critique of the filing of the case by respectfully reminding that the PCA is a duly recognised tribunal under international law, and is a recognised mode of dispute settlement for the UN Convention of the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS, see Article 287). China and the Philippines are both founding members of the UN and state parties to the UNCLOS and PCA. The PCA has ruled that it has jurisdiction over the case filed by the Philippines. Fellow Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) member Vietnam has also filed action in the PCA. A decision by the PCA is expected in the coming days.
The Philippines treasures its deep and long-standing relationship with China and respects China’s global leadership – but to quote and paraphrase a recent movie and numerous historical statesmen: “With great power comes great responsibility.”
It is comforting to hear that China respects and adheres to international law and seeks only peace. As both the Philippines and China are state parties to UNCLOS and the PCA, I look forward to the imminent decision of the court so we may both move ahead with regard to this issue.
The Philippines understand and respect New Zealand’s view on this matter as not one of “taking sides” but rather of supporting continuing universal adherence to the rule of law, a rules-based international system and international law. New Zealand, and the Asia-Pacific region, for that matter, enjoy a thriving trade and investment relationship with China – whose foundation relies on a rules- and law-based global order. Thank you for your kind attention and understanding. NZ Herald / MCAG