Philippines protests China’s creation of new districts in South China Sea

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, April 22) — The Philippines has filed a diplomatic protest over China’s creation of new districts in what it claims to be its territory, Foreign Affairs Teodoro “Teddyboy” Locsin Jr. said Wednesday.

Locsin said in a tweet that the Chinese Embassy in Manila has received at 5:17 p.m. a diplomatic protest for declaring parts of Philippine territory as part of Hainan province.

Aside from this, Locsin said that the Philippines also protested China’s alleged pointing of a radar gun at a Philippine Navy ship in Philippine waters.

“[These] are both violations of international law and Philippine sovereignty,” Locsin said.

China created two new districts of Sansha City, the southernmost city of Hainan province, which cover features in the disputed South China Sea, including the Philippine-claimed Spratly Islands, Scarborough Shoal and Fiery Cross Reef.

China, the Philippines, Malaysia, Vietnam and Taiwan have overlapping claims over Spratly Islands. Fiery Cross Reef, meanwhile, is claimed by China, the Philippines, Vietnam and Taiwan. Taiwan, China and the Philippines all claim Scarborough Shoal.

Former Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario urged the Philippine government to protest China’s creation of the new districts.

President Rodrigo Duterte has nurtured ties with China, despite its continued aggression in the West Philippine Sea — areas Manila claims and occupies in the South China Sea.

A 2016 ruling by a Hague-based arbitral tribunal backed by the Permanent Court of Arbitration voided China’s sweeping claims over virtually the entire South China Sea based on so-called historical rights, but Beijing continues to reject this decision.

Chinese President Xi Jinping has convinced Duterte to "shelve differences" to make way for joint oil and gas exploration.