|(Sec. Albert Del Rosario)|
MANILA - The Philippine government on Thursday said no nation in the world is recognizing the validity of China's territorial claims over the majority of the South China Sea as shown by the recent statements of US senators and Indonesian President Joko Widodo.
In a forum, Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario thanked the Indonesian president for his statement that China's main claims to the majority of the South China Sea had no legal basis in international law.
"It reaffirms the belief that no country in the world recognizes that the 9-dash line is a valid claim on the part of China," he said.
China claims 90 percent of the South China Sea, which is believed to be rich in oil and gas. Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines, Vietnam and Taiwan lay claim to parts of the sea, where about $5 trillion of ship-borne trade passes every year.
The territorial dispute is seen as one of Asia's hot spots, carrying risks that it could spiral out of control and result in conflict as countries aggressively stake their claims.
In the forum, Del Rosario accused China of accelerating its expansionist agenda by changing the size, structure and physical attributes of land features in the South China Sea.
He said Chinese vessels have rammed Filipino vessels in the West Philippine Sea, endangering the lives of fishermen.
The foreign affairs chief said China has claimed that an international tribunal has no jurisdiction in the arbitration case filed by the Philippines against Beijing's territorial claims.
He also said China is backing the level of the resources it is placing in consolidating its presence in the South China Sea with an aggressive public diplomacy campaign.
"China is aware it has to engage in a battle of public opinion and shape the narrative in its favor given the weak legal case it is standing on," he said.
Del Rosario noted the Philippines pursued arbitration "to preserve a valued friendship" with China, without diminishing its deal to pursue a legally binding code of conduct in the South China Sea.
"International law is the great equalizer...We are in the right and right is might," he said.