Manila [Philippines], April 30 (ANI): Philippine opposition senators signed a resolution accusing Beijing of "creeping hegemony" in the South China Sea, citing the illegal presence of Chinese ships in the Manila's exclusive economic zone.
The 11 senators, mostly critics of President Rodrigo Duterte, released Resolution 708 that hit out at the lingering presence of Chinese vessels in disputed waters in the Spratly Islands, despite multiple diplomatic protests lodged by the Department of Foreign Affairs this month, reported Radio Free Asia.
"While China's increasing dominance as regional and world power cannot be denied, its open and serious contempt of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), as well as its expansion of influence in the area at the expense of legitimate interests and legally recognised maritime entitlements of smaller nations like the Philippines, must be firmly resisted and denounced and the 2016 Permanent Court of Arbitration Award vigorously asserted," Radio Free Asia quoted the resolution, filed on Monday.
Close diplomatic ties and Manila's acceptance of economic help from Beijing "should not be mistaken as acceptance of China's creeping hegemony over our region and country," the senators emphasised.
In the recent past, Beijing had said that it was not bound by the international arbitration court's ruling in 2016.
However, Duterte has been accused of being silent at a time when Chinese "maritime militia" vessels have refused to withdraw the ships from Manila's exclusive economic zone (EEZ) in the South China Sea.
China claims sovereignty over almost the entire South China Sea and has overlapping territorial claims with Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines, Vietnam and Taiwan.
Earlier two weeks ago, the National Task Force for the West Philippine Sea reported that government patrols had spotted an estimated 240 Chinese ships in Philippine waters - more than the 220 spotted in March.
China has been increasing its maritime activities in both the South China Sea and the East China Sea over the past few months, partly in response to Beijing's concerns over the increasing US military presence in the region because of escalating Sino-US tensions.
Beijing's rising assertiveness against counter claimants in the East and South Sea has resulted in unprecedented agreement across the Indo-Pacific. (ANI)