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Philippines to defy China, pursue UN case on sea row

MANILA - The Philippines said Friday it planned to defy Chinese warnings and pursue a case in the United Nations challenging Beijing's claim to most of the South China Sea.

Manila is to file as scheduled its "memorial", or formal pleading on Sunday, which would allow the UN arbitral tribunal to study the Philippine argument that the Chinese claim covers parts of Filipino territory, officials said.

Abigail Valte, a spokeswoman for President Benigno Aquino, said the government was pursuing the case despite official Chinese warnings of fallout in bilateral relations.

"At least for the Philippine government we can say that all factors have been taken into consideration when the discussions were being had on the matter of the arbitration," she told reporters.

China claims most of the strategically important body of water as well as islets and reefs which border major sea lanes and are reputed to sit on vast oil and gas reserves.

The Philippines, whose forces are dwarfed by its giant neighbour in an increasingly tense stand-off over some reefs and shoals, sought UN arbitration in January 2012 to settle the dispute, but China has rejected the move.

China’s foreign ministry spokesman Hong Lei warned the Philippines on Wednesday against proceeding with the UN case.

"China will never accept nor participate in the international arbitration unilaterally initiated and pushed by the Philippines, and China’s position has a solid basis in international law," Hong told a news conference in Beijing.

AFP


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