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Manila to take sea dispute to UN court

South China Sea wrangle reaches new stage reporter, Manila

January 22, 2013

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The Philippines on Tuesday said it will formally challenge China's claims over disputed areas in the South China Sea in a UN court.

Foreign Secretary Albert del Rosario said the Philippines has exhausted almost all political and diplomatic avenues for a peaceful negotiated settlement and hopes that arbitral proceedings will bring results.

The disputes center around the Paracel Islands, which are occupied by China but claimed by Vietnam, and the Spratly Islands, which are disputed by the Philippines, China, Brunei, Malaysia, Taiwan and Vietnam.

Del Rosario said he has informed China's ambassador that Manila is bringing the matter before an arbitral tribunal under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS).

China has been opposing the move, but Del Rosario said it is the only way "to achieve a peaceful and durable solution to the dispute."

He said he summoned Chinese ambassador Ma Keqing on Tuesday and handed her a Note Verbale, which contains the "Notification and Statement of Claim" that challenges China’s claim to almost the entire South China Sea.

The Note Verbale also called on China to desist from "unlawful activities that violate the sovereign rights and jurisdiction of the Philippines."

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