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MANILA, Philippines — China on Friday lay its claim anew over Huangyan Island (Scarborough Shoal), affirming that its sovereignty over the disputed territory was based on legal, economic, and historical facts.
The Philippines and China are in a diplomatic and military impasse in the area of the West Philippine Sea as both have deployed their naval forces to keep watch over at least eight Chinese fishing boats, which were found to have corals, giant clams, and other endangered maritime species.
Both have claimed sovereignty over the shoal which the Philippines calls Panatag Shoal and the Chinese as Huangyan Island.
In a statement Friday, the Chinese Embassy said "it is China who first discovered Huangyan Island, gave it the name, included it into its territory, and exercised jurisdiction over it."
The island was part of China's map during the Yuan Dynasty (1271-1368 AD), and in January 1935, the Map Verification Committee of the China, declared sovereignty over 132 islands reefs and shoals.
Huangyan Island was included as a part of Zhongsha Islands into Chinese territory that was then known as Scarborough Shoal. In 1983, the China Board on Geograpic Names released the geographic names of some of South China Sea Islands, which decided to use Huangyan Island as the standard name of the territory, and Democratic Reef as the alternative name.
"All the official maps published by Chinese governments of different periods marked Huangyan Island as Chinese territory," the embassy said.
Since its discovery, the embassy said that China has been developing and exploiting the island, maintaining that the area itself and the surrounding waters are traditional fishing area for Chinese fishermen.
The Chinese embassy questioned the claim of the Philippines on the island, saying that none of the international treaties that set the Philippine territory included Huangyan Island.
"The Treaty of Paris (1898), The Treaty of Washington (1900) and the Treaty with Great Britain (1930) state clearly that the west limit of the Philippines territory is 118th degree meridian of longitude east of Greenwich, while the Huangyan Island is obviously outside this limits(15º08'-15º14'N, 117º 44'-117º48'E)," it said.
The embassy further stressed that the 1935 Constitution of the Republic of the Philippines, the 1946 Treaty of General Relations between the United States of America and the Republic of the Philippines, the 1952 U.S.-Philippines Mutual Defense Treaty, the 1961 Republic Act No. 3046 and the 1968 Republic Act. No. 5446 have reaffirmed the legal effects of the above-mentioned three treaties and defined the Philippine territorial limits, the baseline points and baseline of the territorial waters, which have excluded the Huangyan Island.
In the Philippine maps published in 1981 and 1984, Huangyan Island is also outside the Philippine territorial limits.
"The above facts fully prove that Huangyan Island is outside the scope of Philippine territory," the embassy said.
It added that even the National Mapping and Resource Information Authority of the Philippines also acknowledged that Huangyan Island was outside the territorial boundaries of the country.
Until 1997, China said that the Philippines did not dispute their activities in the island.
While the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea allow coastal states to claim a 200-nautical mile exclusive economic zone, the Chinese embassy said that "coastal states have no right to harm the inherent territory and sovereignty of other countries."
"Any attempt to change the ownership of the territorial sovereignty by UNCLOS is a violation of the principles of international laws,
including that of UNCLOS, and will never be realized. The maritime jurisdiction scope of the Philippines should not harm the territorial sovereignty of China over the Huangyan Island," the embassy said.