DFA sends note verbale to China

DFA sends note verbale to China

The Department of Foreign Affairs said yesterday that it had sent a note verbale to China seeking clarification on the recent clash between Philippine Navy personnel and the Chinese Coast Guard near the island of Pag-asa in the Philippine Sea. Western.

Foreign Secretary Enrique Manalo said before sending the note verbale that the department had been “studying” the incident in which the Chinese coast guard “forcibly” seized an unidentified floating object recovered by Philippine troops on Last Sunday. The floating object turned out to be debris from a recently launched spacecraft by China.

Last Wednesday, the officer in charge of the Department of National Defense, José Faustino Jr., disputed China’s claim that its coast guard obtained possession of the rocket remnants found by Philippine troops through “friendly consultation.”

Faustino stood by the Armed Forces report that a Chinese ship blocked the Philippine Navy personnel’s prearranged course while towing the debris, severed the tow line attached to its rubber dinghy and made off with the object.

The Chinese embassy in Manila has denied that its coast guard forcibly recovered the item from Philippine troops, saying it was done after “friendly consultation” on the spot.

“The department has also taken action. We already issued a note verbale seeking clarification from China on what happened,” Manalo told CNN Philippines.

Last Tuesday, President Marcos Jr. said that Manila would send a verbal note to Beijing following the incident.

“We, of course, have our own reports, but we would like to know from China’s side,” Marcos said.

Manalo said the DFA is ready to take further action, including filing a diplomatic protest.

“At the same time, we will continue to monitor this incident and see what further diplomatic action might be required,” the DFA chief said, adding that his next action would depend on China’s response.

A verbal note is a diplomatic note that is more formal than an aide-mémoire, written in the third person and never signed, while a diplomatic protest is in the nature of a complaint and generally expresses dissatisfaction with an official action or policy. of the government to which it is addressed.

Manalo said it was up to Beijing whether it would consider the note verbale a diplomatic protest.

“Technically, it is a diplomatic note. We have made it very clear that this is the report we have received and would like to seek clarification from China. They can take it however they want, but we hope they get back to us as soon as possible,” Manalo said.

Manalo added that the DFA supports the Philippine Navy’s statement on the matter.

“We stand firm on the Vice Admiral’s statement; we are taking that to heart. That is why we have indeed referred to it in the verbal note to China and we would like to see how it responds,” said Manalo, referring to the statements by the head of the AFP Western Command, Admiral Alberto Carlos.

Last September, the DFA informed the Senate that since Marcos took office last June, it has lodged 48 diplomatic protests against China over the aggressive action of its vessels in the WPS.

Since January this year, the DFA said 172 protests have been filed against Beijing.

388 diplomatic protests were filed against Beijing under the pro-China administration of former President Rodrigo Duterte.

The diplomatic protests covered incidents such as illegal fishing, the illegal presence of Chinese vessels, the harassment of Filipino fishermen and law enforcement authorities, and unauthorized scientific research in the country’s exclusive economic zone.

China claims almost all of the South China Sea, and the Philippines, Vietnam, Taiwan, Brunei and Malaysia have overlapping claims.

In 2016, the Netherlands-based Permanent Court of Arbitration declared China’s extensive claims to disputed water under its so-called nine-point line invalid in a landmark case brought by the Philippines. However, Beijing refused to recognize the arbitral award.

CODE OF CONDUCT

In a related development, Manalo said that Marcos and Chinese President Xi Jin Ping have reaffirmed their commitments to draw up a Code of Conduct to ease tension between the claimant countries and prevent it from escalating into a military conflict.

“President Marcos and President Xi met on the sidelines of the APEC Summit, their first face-to-face meeting, and during the meeting they discussed a broad area of ​​cooperation. The Code of Conduct was also discussed and both leaders reaffirmed their commitment to conclude the negotiation of a substantive code of conduct,” Manalo said, adding that he hopes negotiations on the Code will resume next year.

“I have at least two or three rounds of negotiations next year,” Manalo said, adding that the COVID-19 pandemic hampered previous negotiations.

But he cautioned that the deal could take some time to come to fruition considering the complex and technical issues involved.

“It is quite technical and many of our technical and legal experts in the law of the sea are involved in the negotiation. I don’t have a crystal ball, but I hope that in the next year or two it will materialize. All I can say is that we will do our best to wrap it up at the best possible time,” he added.

A legally binding COC is expected to ease tension and lessen the possibility of a military confrontation in the area while enhancing confidence-building measures between the claiming countries.

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