DHARAMSALA, 15 April: Amid growing tension between the Philippines and China over the presence of Chinese maritime militia vessels from the West Philippine Sea, the former’s largest chamber of commerce and other business groups have joined the growing calls on China to “withdraw vessels and to stop acting like the colonisers.
Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PCCI); the Management Association of the Philippines; the Makati Business Club (MBC); the Filipina CEO Circle; the Judicial Reform Initiative; Cebu Business Club; Iloilo Business Club, Inc.; and the Bishops-Businessmen’s Conference for Human Development have declared that they supported the countries Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana, other government officials and many groups calling on China to withdraw these vessels.
Julian Felipe was “historically and by law undisputed Philippine territory, as was most clearly established in the 2016 ruling based on the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea,” the business organizations stated in their statements, the Inquirer reported.
The report noted that the Philippines Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana has earlier said that “the swarming of Julian Felipe showed China’s intent to occupy other maritime features within the West Philippine Sea. His demand that they all leave was included in the first protest against the vessels’ presence.”
“Our exclusive right over the Julian Felipe Reef carries with it the utilization of, and the obligation to protect, its economic benefits, such as its rich marine life and mineral deposits, for the well-being of each and every Filipino,” the statement read.
The ruling by the international arbitral tribunal in 2016 invalidated China’s claims to virtually the entire South China Sea, including the West Philippine Sea, waters within the country’s EEZ, the report added.
Coco Alcuaz, executive director of MBC has stated in the report that the statement resulted from “conversations” among business groups and that others are welcome to either join them or take a cue from them.
“Others are welcome to join or adopt it, or, just as well, issue their own. We issued it now because we believe it’s important to support [Secretary] Lorenzana and other officials who are defending Philippine sovereignty,” he was quoted as saying in the report.
Further, the statement quoted a speech to the United Nations in 1974 by Chinese statesman Deng Xiaoping who served as the paramount leader of the People’s Republic of China from December 1978 to November 1989 that warned Beijing that “If one day China should change her colour and turn into a superpower, if she too should play the tyrant in the world and everywhere subject others to her bullying, aggression and exploitation, the people of the world should expose it, oppose it and work together with the Chinese people to overthrow it.”
“We call on the Chinese authorities to respect the sovereignty of the Philippines and other neighbouring countries for it is only through peaceful coexistence that we can achieve prosperity for all,” the statement concluded.