islands built by China in the South China Sea.jpg
A file picture dated 11 May 2015 shows an areal view of alleged artificial islands built by China in disputed waters in the South China Sea, west of Palawan, Philippines.
Photograph: EPA/RITCHIE B. TONGO/POOL

The Philippines on Thursday called on China to respect international law in resolving maritime territorial disputes, a touchy issue between the two nations, while Japan pledged support to boost the country’s maritime security.

Philippine Foreign Secretary Perfecto Yasay said he and Japanese Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida discussed shared concerns about regional security, stability and prosperity amid tensions about territorial disputes.

“We ... urge China to make sure that maritime law security and the rule of law must completely and uncompromisingly be respected,” he said in a press conference after their meeting in the southern city of Davao.

On July 12, the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague ruled that China has no legal rights to claim a large swathe of the South China Sea, in a case brought by the Philippines because of just such claims.

China, which did not participate in the arbitration case, has rejected the court's ruling as “null and void.”

Yasay noted that Japan and the Philippines have had similar experiences of intimidation and provocation by China, which has controversial claims to large parts of the South China Sea and the East China Sea.

“This is not the kind of action that is mandated by international law,” he said. “Everyone must respect our maritime order and security in this area in the South China Sea and East China Sea, and we urge them to respect the rule of law.”

Japan agreed.

“Maritime order based on the rule of law is indispensable for the region's stability and prosperity," Kishida said, stressing that Japan would cooperate with other countries for peaceful resolution of territorial disputes.

Kishida, who was to meet President Rodrigo Duterte after the meeting with Yasay, said Japan would support the Philippines in improving its maritime security and will deliver the first of 10 coastguard vessels it had promised to Manila.

Japan will also lease four TD-90 surveillance aircraft to the Philippines, he added.

Apart from China and the Philippines, Brunei, Malaysia, Taiwan, and Vietnam also have overlapping claims to the South China Sea, a key shipping lane and rich in mineral and marine resources.

Japan has no claims to the South China Sea, but has dispute with Beijing over small islands in the East China Sea.

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