Philippines takes sea dispute to UN tribunal

Philippines takes sea dispute to UN tribunal

The Philippines has asked an international tribunal to intervene in its South China Sea territorial dispute with China.

Manila asked the tribunal of the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea to order a halt to China's activities in the sea.

"The Philippines has exhausted almost all political and diplomatic avenues for a peaceful negotiated settlement of its maritime dispute with China," Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert Del Rosario said yesterday.

"To this day, a solution is still elusive. We hope that the arbitral proceedings shall bring this dispute to a durable solution."

But while the tribunal's decisions are binding on countries concerned, it has no power to enforce them.

In response, Ma Keqing, China's ambassador to the Philippines, said China had indisputable sovereignty over the South China Sea islands and adjacent waters.

"The Chinese side strongly holds that the disputes on the South China Sea should be settled by parties concerned through negotiations," Ma said after meeting a senior Philippine diplomat. "This is also the consensus reached by parties concerned in the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea."

The Philippines has previously sought the support of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations on the territorial dispute, with ASEAN agreeing to ask China to start talks on a "code of conduct."

China wants to address the dispute via bilateral talks.