Philippines defiant over Chinese ships in disputed area

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ANKARA

The Philippines has conveyed to China its concern over the presence of over 200 Chinese ships in an area of the disputed South China Sea, an official said on Thursday.

President Rodrigo Duterte told Chinese Ambassador Huang Xilian in a recent meeting that Philippines stands by its victory at The Hague, Harry Roque, the presidential spokesperson, said at a virtual news conference, local news website Rappler reported.

He was referring to the 2016 ruling by an international tribunal in The Hague that overwhelmingly backed the Philippines on the disputed waters of the South China Sea.

Roque, however, did not specify when the meeting was held.

The issue arose when 220 Chinese ships were seen near the Julian Felipe Reef in West Philippines Sea earlier this month.

“The president said we are really concerned. He repeated what he told the UN, that we stand by and protect our territory, that we believe this has to be resolved through the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea and we stand by our victory at the Arbitral Tribunal,” said Roque.

Duterte had also brought up the South China Sea dispute in his speech to the UN General Assembly last September, asserting that the Philippines “rejected attempts to undermine” the ruling at The Hague.

In 2016, the Permanent Court of Arbitration at The Hague ruled against Chinese claims on the South China Sea, backing a 2013 case brought by Manila.

The court said China’s claims of historic rights within the nine-dash line, which Beijing uses to demarcate its claims in the disputed maritime territory, were without legal foundation.

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