Philippines, Japan hold maritime drill post…

Philippines, Japan hold maritime drill post South China Sea ruling

Manila, July 13 (IANS) The Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) on Wednesday conducted a joint maritime exercise with the Japan Coast Guard in the vicinity of Manila Bay, just one day after the Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) at The Hague ruled in favour of the Philippines over its South China Sea dispute with China.

The agencies deployed vessels including an oil tanker, rigid hull inflatable boat and a helicopter to carry out drills during the 6th Joint Maritime Law Enforcement (MARLEN) Exercise, including mock capture and arrests of pirates, Efe news reported.

Foreign observers from Malaysia, Australia and the US were present at the exercise, which was focused on combating piracy and armed robbery at sea and aimed to boost the capabilities of both sides, said the Philippine Information Agency in a statement.

The drills followed Tuesday’s ruling by the PCA in The Hague, which declared that a ‘nine-dash’ line the Chinese government used to delineate South China Sea claims, contravenes the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), and that China had aggravated the situation by constructing artificial islands.

However, Manila was disappointed that the court did not include a declaration stipulating China should respect the rights and freedoms of the Philippines and comply with its obligations under the applicable convention in future.

Beijing responded on Wednesday by releasing a White Paper that justifies China’s position on the South China Sea dispute with nearly 150 arguments and dismisses the Philippines’ claims of sovereignty as “baseless”.

Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Liu Zhenminhe also called the ruling unjust and said that it seeks to deny Chinese sovereignty, maritime rights and interests, while legitimising the Philippines’ claims.

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