Philippines Wary Of UK’s Move In South China Sea

Philippines Wary Of UK’s Move In South China Sea
Photo Credit: akeán2® via Compfight cc

The United Kingdom surprised the Philippines with its request for the status of a “neutral observer” in the hearing held at The Hague involving the disputed South China Sea. The UK has no direct territorial claims, and its request came after a state visit by Chinese president Xi Jinping in London in October.


UK’s Foreign office said that the request to be a “neutral observer” during the court hearing is more of a diplomatic move and a routine intervention in international maritime affairs, The Guardian reported. However, the move caused Philippines to suspect that London wants involvement as per China’s order. According to The Guardian, the United States requested the same status but was denied for not having direct territorial involvement.

The Philippines has taken its South China Sea case against China to The Hague court on Tuesday. Manila specifically objected to China’s territorial claims over an area called the nine-dash lane.

On Nov. 26, Philippines Deputy Presidential Spokesperson Abigail Valte said her country advocate, professor Alan Boyle, told court about the risk brought by China’s illegal activities in the contested region. Beijing had been arguing that its building of facilities is aimed at safeguarding ships passing along the area. Professor Boyle detailed to the Tribunal the number of near-collisions that occurred in April and May 2012 involving Chinese Marine Service vessels and Philippine vessels. Boyle argued that the near-misses displayed Chain’s “deliberate disregard for international law” on the safety of maritime vessels.

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China refused to participate in the session for it does not recognize The Hague as an authority to decide on the case. Hearing will resume on Monday, Nov. 30.