The Philippines on Wednesday filed two diplomatic protests against China over supposed violations of international law and Philippine sovereignty in the West Philippine Sea, according to Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro "Teddy" Locsin Jr.
In a tweet, Locsin said the protests were filed with the Chinese Embassy in Manila and concerned China's alleged harassment of a Philippine Navy ship and its unilateral establishment of two districts that cover Philippine territories in the West Philippine Sea.
"At 5:17 pm today the Chinese embassy received 2 diplomatic protests: 1. on the pointing of a radar gun at a Philippine Navy ship in PH waters & 2. declaring parts of Philippine territory as part of Hainan province—both violations of international law & Philippine sovereignty," he said.
The two new districts - one in the Paracels and one in the Spratlys, where several areas are claimed by the Philippines - will be under the authority of the local government in Sansha, a city in the southern island of Hainan.
The Philippines, China, Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei, and Taiwan are locked in decades-long territorial conflict in the South China Sea, where oil and gas deposits have been discovered in several areas.
China claims a huge swathe of the South China Sea as part of its territory, but the Permanent Court of Arbitration tribunal in The Hague invalidated this claim on July 12, 2016 following a case filed by the Philippines in 2013.
Beijing has ignored and belittled the ruling, maintaining it has “indisputable” and “historical” claim over nearly the entire waters even as it encroaches on the territories of its smaller neighbors like the Philippines.
China has also claimed and developed some features in parts of the South China Sea, called West Philippine Sea by Manila. -MDM, GMA News