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Philippines criticizes Chinese decision to designate districts in South China Sea

The Philippines denounced a recent Chinese decision to name new districts in the South China Sea. File Photo by Ritchie B. Tongo/EPA
The Philippines denounced a recent Chinese decision to name new districts in the South China Sea. File Photo by Ritchie B. Tongo/EPA

May 1 (UPI) -- The Philippines voiced strong opposition to a Chinese decision to designate new administrative regions in the South China Sea, where Beijing has claimed disputed islands as part of its own territory.

Manila's foreign affairs department said Friday China's decision to designate island groups as the "Nansha" and "Xisha" districts in areas of the West Philippine Sea is a breach of international law, Philippine news service ABS-CBN reported.

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China had said on April 18 Nansha and Xisha, part of the Kalayaan Island Group, were under the jurisdiction of Beijing's "Sansha City," according to the Philippines.

Sansha City is a violation of "Philippine territorial sovereignty over the Kalayaan Island Group and Bajo de Masinloc and infringes on Philippine sovereign rights over the waters and continental shelf in the West Philippine Sea," Manila said Friday.

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"Kagitingan Reef is within the Kalayaan Island Group and is thus an integral part of Philippine territory," the ministry added, according to the Philippine Daily Inquirer.

The government also filed a complaint over the pointing of a radar gun at a Philippine Navy ship in Philippine waters, according to the report.

On Friday the Philippine foreign ministry referred to the South China Sea Arbitration, a case brought by Manila against China under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea concerning the legality of China's nine-dash line.

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In 2016, the intergovernmental Permanent Court of Arbitration had ruled in favor of the Philippines and said China has "no historical rights based on the 'nine-dash line' map." China has rejected the ruling.

"The Philippines calls on China to adhere to international law, including the UNCLOS, as well as to the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea, specifically Paragraph 5 thereof, under which parties undertake to exercise self-restraint in the conduct of activities that would complicate or escalate disputes and affect peace and stability," the Philippine foreign ministry said.

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