And I’ve said it repeatedly, approach this issue as a UNITED ASEAN not as individual countries. China is playing the “divide-and-conquer” game. Talk (more like, challenge) each of us individually so our power remains small.
Just look at how they did not include in their new epassport the islands they’re in a row with Japan! Japan is on a different level and they’re approaching it differently – as a power to reckon with.
The Department of Foreign Affairs on Thursday issued a note verbale against China to protest this new development. “The Philippines does not accept the validity of the nine-dash lines that amount to an excessive declaration of maritime space in violation of international law,” DFA chief Albert del Rosario said in a press briefing.
“The Philippines demanded that China respect the territory and maritime domain of the Philippines,” the foreign chief stressed.
The new Chinese ePassport contained images of the nine-dash line which DFA officials say “covers an area that is clearly part of the Philippine territory and maritime domain”.
The nine-dash-line encompasses the Spratly Islands, Paracel Islands, Pratas Islands and Macclesfield Bank – all believed to hold vast resources of oil and mineral reserves.
Vietnam also made the same complaint against China, and said discussions between Hanoi and Beijing are under way.
“I got into Vietnam after lots of twists and turns,” said one user of China’s hugely popular microblogging site Sina Weibo, saying an entry stamp was initially refused “because of the printed map of China’s sea boundaries – which Vietnam does not recognise”.
Vietnamese foreign ministry spokesman Luong Thanh Nghi told reporters Thursday that the Chinese documents amounted to a violation of Hanoi’s sovereignty and it had protested to the embassy.
Officials handed Chinese representatives “a diplomatic note opposing the move, asking China to abolish the wrongful contents printed in these electronic passports”, he said.
In Tokyo, a foreign ministry official said: “We have confirmed that disputed islands in South China Sea appear in a map printed on new Chinese passports.
“On the other hand, Senkaku doesn’t. Therefore, we are not in a position to comment or complain.”
Show to the world that ASEAN works. Make all those disputed islands and waters under the ASEAN banner shared by all ASEAN members (not just those with claims), then dispute it as ONE-ASEAN.
If that is not possible (which probably isn’t, not with Myanmar and Cambodia having close ties with China), then all ASEAN members with disputes re: South China Sea, should unite as one and make these territories declared as an ASEAN territory. Guidelines can be discussed and created on how to manage this “ASEAN territory”, and how to manage it.
It is better that way than to let China do what they want: divide-and-conquer. It’s now or never.
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