The Philippines is using “moral suasion” in its conflict with Asian giant China over their claims to parts of the South China Sea, a government spokesman said Thursday.
This was why the Philippines filed a case to a UN tribunal, asking it to declare Beijing’s claims of undisputed sovereignty over most of the sea as illegal, said Foreign Department spokesman Charles Jose.
“Through moral suasion, we hope the international community will help make China realise that it is also in their best interest to respect and comply with the decision of the tribunal,” he said on ABS-CBN television.
“If China wants to be seen as a responsible member of the international community, then it is better for them to work, to operate within the established international order rather than outside of it.”
Last month the Philippines presented an appeal before the UN tribunal, prompting China to warn that this action had “seriously damaged” bilateral ties. It said it held Manila responsible for the “consequences” of the UN move.
Jose said the Philippines was aware it could face retaliation through trade or travel sanctions.
But he defended Manila’s tactics, saying “economically speaking, militarily speaking, we have nothing to match China so our recourse is international law which is the great equaliser”.
Speaking at the presidential palace, President Benigno Aquino’s spokesman Herminio Coloma said the Philippines’ objective was to show its claim over parts of the South China Sea were based on international law.
He stressed that it was not just a Philippine issue but included “even other countries with maritime entitlements under the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea”.
China claims almost all of the South China Sea, even up to the coasts of many of its neighbours.
This has raised territorial conflicts not only with the Philippines but also with Brunei, Malaysia, Taiwan and Vietnam.