As the Philippines marked Independence Day on Friday, the United Nations was listening to the country's call for an expression of global concern over China's massive land reclamation in the South China Sea.
Speaking at the annual meeting of State Parties to the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (Unclos) at UN headquarters in New York, Philippine Permanent Representative to the United Nations Lourdes Yparraguirre said China's massive land reclamation activities to build artificial islands in the South China Sea should concern the entire international community.
"[China's island-building] threatens the integrity of the convention, our constitution for the oceans," Yparraguirre said, referring to the Unclos, which 167 countries, including the Philippines and China, have signed.
The Unclos "defines the rights and responsibilities" of the signatories "with respect to the use of the world's oceans, and establishes guidelines for businesses, the environment and the management of marine natural resources," the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said Sunday.
In her speech, Yparraguirre cited instances of China's violations of Philippine territory and sovereignty that deprived the country of its rights to its exclusive economic zone (EEZ).
She said that in 2012, China reneged on a mutual agreement to withdraw naval presence from Panatag Shoal (Scarborough Shoal), located 223 kilometers west of Luzon, well within the Philippines' 370-km EEZ, and 1,440 km southeast of the nearest Chinese coast.
To this day, China controls the shoal, barring Filipino fishermen from their traditional fishing grounds there, she said.