PH politics fueling rising tensions in SCS—Former Singaporean FM

PH politics fueling rising tensions in SCS—Former Singaporean FM

ACCORDING to Former Singaporean Foreign Minister George Yeo, the current state of politics in the Philippines is the reason for the heightened tensions between the Philippines and China over maritime claims in the South China Sea.

In an interview with CGTN, Yeo discussed China’s view of the Philippines under both the previous and current administrations concerning the disputed waters.

“Much of what the Philippines is now doing is the result of domestic politics. (Former) President (Rodrigo) Duterte reached some kind of an understanding with China, including the beached LST on Ren’ai Jiao. But under President (Ferdinand Romualdez) Marcos (Jr.), they felt that that was unfair, and they want to repair that ship, which is breaking down. That’s a proximate cause of the current tension,” George Yeo, Former Singaporean Foreign Minister stated.

Yeo also noted that when the Philippines brought the issue to the International Tribunal under UNCLOS or the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, it did not consult its neighboring countries.

“When the Philippines took China to the UNCLOS (United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea), it never consulted ASEAN. So, ASEAN felt no obligation to support the Philippines over the Second Thomas Shoal or Ren’ai Jiao (Huangyan Island). ASEAN shows great discomfort because they really don’t want escalation and conflict in their own backyard,” added Yeo.

It can be recalled that in 2016, the Philippines won the International Arbitration against China, which declared Beijing’s nine-dash line maritime claims as having no legal basis.

However, China did not recognize this ruling, insisting that the Tribunal had no jurisdiction and continued to assert its historical rights in the South China Sea.

“I remember reading through the UNCLOS tribunal report, it was about 400 pages, and I thought it was kind of strange because China wasn’t there, and then adjudged to be a weak case. I think the legality of China’s claims is not weak at all. But it’s not well presented in non-Chinese languages,” Yeo said.

Under the Marcos administration, the Philippines has shifted its foreign policy, and there have been renewed allegations of U.S. interference in the issue.

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