MANILA, Jan. 22 (UPI) -- The Philippines is taking its maritime territorial dispute with China to an international arbitration tribunal, the country's foreign minister said Tuesday.
Albert del Rosario said his country has exhausted nearly all political and diplomatic avenues for a peaceful negotiated settlement of the matter, CNN reported.
The two nations have been at loggerheads for some time due to China's claim of sovereignty over large swaths of the South China Sea, including waters off the west coast of the Philippines.
To solve the dispute, Manila said it will head to an international arbitration tribunal under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea.
Other countries also lay claim to parts of the South China Sea, a 1.3 million square mile patch of the Pacific Ocean dotted with hundreds of largely uninhabited islands and coral atolls.
The area is a fertile fishing ground and is believed to hold large oil and gas reserves under the seabed.
Analysts say China is trying to solidify its claim of sovereignty over most of the South China Sea by conducting regular maritime patrols in the area.
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