China on Monday again rejected the 2016 decision by the Permanent Court of Arbitration that invalidated its expansive claims over the South China Sea and that upheld the Philippines’ exclusive economic zone in the West Philippine Sea.
At the 5th Manila Forum for China-Philippines Relations, the vice chairman for the foreign affairs committee of China’s 13th National People’s Congress Fu Ying said China’s decision over the longstanding sea dispute was to respect the pending border disputes with many developing countries and to try to find peaceful solutions with their “friendly neighbors.”
Despite China’s talk of peaceful solutions, Beijing has expanded its hold over the disputed waters of the South China Sea by flexing its military muscle and harassing Filipino fishing vessels in areas claimed by the Philippines.
Meanwhile, the Philippine Navy on Tuesday said its purchase of Indian-made cruise missiles would enhance its ability to defend the country’s vast maritime borders.
Fu, who also served as China’s vice foreign minister and former ambassador to the Philippines, said “China cannot accept the South China Sea Arbitration because it’s not fair.”
“The Law of the Sea did not give countries the right to decide the territory. The Law of the Sea is about maritime rights. The Law of the Sea does not give any country the power or the right to impose on others. So, China does not want to accept the unfair conclusion of the arbitration,” the Chinese official added.
Fu said the friction in Philippines-China relations was “mostly caused by the differences and disputes concerning the islands and shores in the South China Sea,” which she tagged as a “difficult issue.”
With China’s history of “many outstanding, unresolved border and territory disputes,” China never renounced its sovereign rights and its interest, the Chinese diplomat said.
“And it cannot renounce it now. Its position is unshakable,” she said.
Nonetheless, Fu said China is “determined to resort to peaceful means” to manage the differences with its neighbors, “especially with the Philippines, which is an understanding and friendly country.”
But amid growing tension in the South China Sea, the Philippine Navy said its acquisition of the Indian-made BrahMos medium-range ramjet supersonic cruise missiles will greatly enhance its capabilities to defend the country’s vast maritime borders.
Navy spokesman Commander Benjo Negranza said the BrahMos will complement the efforts of Navy surface ships in patrolling Philippines waters aside from beefing up the Philippine Marine Corps (PMC) firepower.
“The acquisition of the shore-based anti-ship missile project will boost the capability of the PN, particularly the PMC’s Coastal Defense Regiment as the end-user,” he said.
Earlier, Department of National Defense (DND) Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said the deliveries of the BrahMos for the PN’s Shore-Based Anti-Ship Missile System Acquisition Project is expected to start within a year.
The BrahMos project is worth $375 million or about P19 billion.
On Dec. 31, Lorenzana signed the Notice of Award for the Navy BrahMos’ acquisition project and is a government-to government deal signed with India.
“It includes the delivery of three batteries, training for operators and maintainers as well as the necessary Integrated Logistics Support (ILS) package. Conceptualized as early as 2017, the Office of the President approved its inclusion in the Horizon 2 Priority Projects in 2020,” he added.
A missile battery typically consists of three mobile autonomous launchers with two or three missile tubes each, along with the tracking systems.
Lorenzana said the PMC’s Coastal Defense Regiment will be the primary user of the BrahMos missile system.
The BrahMos cruise missile can be launched from a ship, aircraft, submarine, or land and has a top speed of around Mach 2.8 (around 3,400 km. per hour), and is capable of carrying warheads weighing 200 to 300 kilograms.
The acquisition of a land-based missile system is under Horizon II of the Revised Armed Forces of the Philippines Modernization Program, which is slated for 2018 to 2022 and geared for the acquisition of equipment for external defense. It has a budget of P300 billion.