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MANILA - (UPDATE, 4:20 p.m.) The Department of Foreign Affairs on Wednesday formally protested the establishment of Sansha City "as the extent of the jurisdiction of the city violates Philippine territorial sovereignty over both the Kalayaan Island Group in the Spratlys and the Bajo de Masinloc."
In a note verbale handed to the Chinese ambassador here, the DFA also said this declaration infringes on Philippine sovereign rights over the waters and the continental shelf of the West Philippine Sea, which the Chinese call the South China Sea.
DFA spokesman Raul Hernandez said this is the 10th note verbale that the DFA has given China over the waters of West Philippine Sea since the Scarborough standoff in April. He said the Chinese ambassador met with DFA officials Wednesday morning.
Sansha contrary to DOC
"The declaration on the establishment of Sansha City contradits the spirit of the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea between China and the ASEAN," the DFA said.
This declaration enjoins all signatories to refrain from taking actions that will raise tensions in the disputed territory.
Aside from China and the Philippines, the other countries with claims to the Spratlys are Brunei, Malaysia, Taiwan, and Vietnam.
"The Philippines reiterates that the Kalayaan Island Group and the Bajo de Masinloc and the waters and the continental shelf around tem form an integral part of the Philippine territory and maritime jurisdiction," the DFA added.
Tension between the two countries has been at an all-time high following the standoff at the Scarborough Shoal (also known as Panatag Shoal and Bajo de Masinloc) since April when the Philippine Navy tried to seize the endangered marine species from Chinese fishing boats. China quickly sent maritime surveillance and fishing law enforcement ships to stop the Philippines from enforcing its fishing laws.
The note verbale does not cover the latest report from the Chinese state media Xinhua about four Chinese maritime surveillance ships patrolling the Spratlys.
This latest Chinese intrusion into Philippine waters is another flashpoint in China-Philippines relations.