By ROGER M. BALANZA
“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 Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) has denounced the Chinese embassy in Manila for tagging Secretary Delfin Lorenzana as “unprofessional” after the defense chief called on China to withdraw it’s vessels from the Julian Felipe Reef in the West Philippine Sea (WPS) that is within the Philippines’ Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ).
“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 in a strongly-worded statement on Monday.
The DFA issued the statement as it supported Lorenzana’s call that China withdraw its vessels , whose presence, Lorenzana said, is part of China’s plan to occupy the whole of the West Philippine Sea.
More than 200 of the Chinese ships were first seen moored in the Juan Felipe Reef on March 7. China has ignored repeated calls to move out the vessels, including a diplomatic protest from the DFA.
The Philippine defense chief on Sunday said “the continued presence of Chinese maritime militias in the area reveals their intent to further occupy features in the West Philippine Sea.”
“The utter disregard by the Chinese Embassy in Manila of international law specially the Unied Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea to which China is a party is appalling,” Lorenzana said.
“The Philippines’ claim stands on solid grounds, while China’s does not.”
Lorenzana added that China, as party to the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea, “should refrain from conducting activities that disturb regional and international peace and security.”
“The utter disregard by the Chinese embassy in Manila of international law especially the UNCLOS to which China is a party is appalling. Its 9-dash line claim is without any factual or legal basis. This, together with its so-called historical claim, was flatly and categorically rejected by the arbitral tribunal,” said Lorenzana in a statement directed at the Chinese embassy in Manila.
The Chinese embassy denounced as ‘unprofessional’ Lorenzana’s statement that China’s ships should move out of Julian Felipe Reef.
“The Chinese Embassy has taken note of the perplexing statement by Philippine Defense Secretary on Chinese fishing vessels around Niu’e Jiao in the South China Sea,” the Chinese embassy last on Saturday said in a statement, calling the reef by its Chinese name.
The embassy said the reef was part of China’s Nansha Islands and a “traditional fishing ground” for the Chinese “for many years.” Nansha is what China calls the Spratlys archipelago, which is composed of reefs, atolls and islets that straddle the South China Sea.
“It is completely normal for Chinese fishing vessels to fish in the waters and take shelter near the reef during rough sea conditions,” the embassy said.
“Nobody has the right to make wanton remarks on such activities,” the embassy said in apparent reference to Lorenzana.
The embassy said China is “committed in safeguarding peace and stability in the waters.”
The embassy said it wished that Philippine officials “would make constructive efforts and avoid any unprofessional remarks which may further fan irrational emotions.”