Thursday, 28 May 2015

[Straits Times] Beijing has long-laid claim to Spratlys

ASSOCIATE Professor Robert C. Beckman's claim that China had not officially claimed a 12 nautical mile (nm) territorial sea from any feature in the Spratlys has no merit ("China and 'might makes right' at sea"; May 20).
On Sept 4, 1958, China declared that the breadth of its territorial sea shall be 12nm, and this applied to all of its territories, including the Nansha (Spratly) Islands.
North Vietnam published the declaration on the front page of the official Nhan Dan newspaper on Sept 6, and then Prime Minister Pham Van Dong wrote to Chinese Premier Zhou Enlai on Sept 14 to acknowledge that North Vietnam recognised and supported China's declaration on its territorial sea.
The Philippines also did not object to China's declaration.
However, on June 11, 1978, President Ferdinand Marcos passed a presidential decree to annex some islands in the Spratlys, and named them the Kalayaan islands.
The good news is that China believes the most effective way to settle maritime disputes is through negotiation and consultation, on the basis of respect for international facts and international law, and not by might.
Tan Keng Tat