DFA reminds Chinese embassy officials they are guests of Philippine government

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The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) in a statement released today, Aril 5 strongly deplored the statement of the Chinese Embassy Spokesperson regarding the April 3 statement of Secretary of National Defense Delfin N. Lorenzana calling on Chinese vessels to leave the waters in the area and vicinity of Julian Felipe Reef.

“The Department of Foreign Affairs strongly denounces the Embassy’s attempt to impugn the Secretary of National Defense — a Cabinet Official of the Republic of the Philippines — by calling his statement “unprofessional”. Chinese Embassy officials are reminded that they are guests of the Philippine Government, and as guests must at all times observe protocol and accord respect to Philippine Government officials,” the DFA said.

DFA said the Chinese embassy’s statement “contained blatant falsehoods such as claims of adverse weather conditions when there were none and the supposed non-existence of maritime militia vessels in the area. The statement also attempted to promote the clearly false narrative of China’s expansive and illegitimate claims in the West Philippine Sea.”

“Julian Felipe Reef is part of the Kalayaan Island Group and lies in the Exclusive Economic Zone of the Republic of the Philippines. It is located 175 nautical miles west of Batarza town in Palawan and 638.229 nautical miles from Hainan Island,” the DFA noted.

It also rejected “China’s assertion that Julian Felipe Reef and its waters are their “traditional fishing grounds.” Tradition yields to law whether or not it is regarded as traditional fishing. The United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) — to which both the Republic of the Philippines and China are parties — and the final and binding 12 July 2016 Award in the South China Sea Arbitration are clearly the only norm applicable to this situation.”

The DFA also said that the July 12, 2016 Award in the South China Sea Arbitration “conclusively settled the issue of historic rights and maritime entitlements in the South China Sea.”

“The Department of Foreign Affairs therefore reiterates the demand of the Secretary of National Defense that China immediately withdraw its fishing vessels and maritime assets in the area and vicinity of Julian Felipe Reef and in the Philippines’ maritime zones. For every day of delay, the Republic of the Philippines will lodge a diplomatic protest,” it added.

“The continued deployment, lingering presence and activities of Chinese vessels in the West Philippine Sea and China’s tolerance thereof blatantly infringe upon Philippine sovereignty, sovereign rights and jurisdiction. These are contrary to China’s commitments under international law and the ASEAN-China Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea, and demonstrate lack of good faith in the ongoing negotiations on a Code of Conduct in the South China Sea between ASEAN and China,” the DFA said.