As Beijing flexes muscles in South China Sea, Malaysia eyes harder response

President-elect Rodrigo R. Duterte meets Chinese Ambassador Zhao Jianhua a week after the May 9 elections.- AFP

Most recently, China is reportedly setting the stage to establish an aerial defense identification zone in the area – a move the U.S. Defense Department said would be “provocative” and not recognized militarily.

Duterte, a tough-talking mayor who won the presidency last month, said he would pursue multilateral talks to resolve peacefully the sovereignty issues in the South China Sea, where China has built artificial islands on reefs and atolls. “If the Philippines sincerely want to return to the path of dialogue and consultations, we welcome that”, Wang said.

It argued that China’s claims to the waters do not conform with the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (Unclos) and should be declared invalid.

“We would prefer that all of the claims in the South China Sea be handled through mediation and not force or coercion”, Deputy Secretary of Defense Robert Work said in March when rumors of a Chinese ADIZ first began to surface.

The Philippines will not distance itself from its longtime security ally, the United States (US), but neither will it be a lackey to any foreign power, incoming Secretary of Foreign Affairs Perfecto Yasay told Reuters Wednesday.

“I am waiting for the arbitration”, Duterte said of the process, when asked about investment prospects with China. He formally takes over as president on June 30.

According to Gallo in VOA, the ruling that is expected to be released anytime soon is considered technically binding.

Bilateral talks between China and the Philippines came to a standstill during the reign of outgoing Philippine President Beningo Aquino III.

Cui’s article comes as a ruling on the maritime disputes – filed by the Philippines – will be delivered by the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague in weeks. The ADIZ triggered a backlash from Japan, South Korea and the US.

Earlier, during his address to the audience, Wu emphasized that China will not implement the court’s decision – expected this month or next – and that the worldwide community should understand that Beijing will never give up its legitimate territorial sovereignty and maritime interests and rights in the South China Sea.

“A number of the South China Sea’s littoral states appear to be responding to China’s more assertive stance in the region and there is no sign of this trend coming to an end”, Janes’ principal analyst, Craig Caffrey, said in the report. The US says the patrols are to protect freedom of navigation.

“We hope the USA side will keep its promise”, Zheng said, urging the United States to make judgements in accordance with facts rather than favoring its allies.

China claims most of the South China Sea, through which $5 trillion in ship-borne trade passes every year.

Rather than retreating from China’s aggressive posturing, the US has been helping its allies around the South China Sea to make their sovereignty claims through global arbitration and has been boosting military cooperation with China’s rival claimants, he said.

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