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China Daily Website

Renaming of South China Sea draws flak

Updated: 2012-09-19 18:28
( Xinhua)

MANILA - After the Philippine government formally named the western maritime area in the country, which is part of the South China Sea, as the "West Philippine Sea," the Philippines drew some flak, including those from local analysts.

According to the Administrative Order (AO) 29 signed by Philippine President Benigno Aquino III on Sept 5, the  West Philippine Sea includes the Luzon Sea as well as the waters around, within and adjacent to Nansha Islands, called "Kalayaan" by the Philippines, and Huangyan Island or "Bajo De Masinloc" used by the Philippines.

Aquino has ordered the National Mapping and Resource Information Authority (Namria) to produce and publish charts and maps of the Philippines reflecting the "West Philippine Sea" in accordance with the AO.

The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) has been instructed to furnish a copy of the order and official map to the secretary general of the United Nations and to notify other international organizations, such as the International Hydrographic Organization and the United Nations Conference on the Standardization of Geographical Names.

But according to political analyst Alex Magno, he has a problem with AO 29.

In his column in one of Manila's leading dailies, Magno said that in his columns, he used South China Sea to refer to the general area where"we have problematic territorial issues" with China and other countries.

"Now, I suppose, as an obedient citizen, I must use West Philippine Sea. That would confuse foreign readers. Better that than be condemned a traitor," Magno said.

Under AO 29, the West Philippine Sea is part of the South China Sea that is within the country's 200-nautical mile exclusive economic zone (EEZ)

"That means South China Sea is not abolished from our nomenclature, referring to the rest of the body of water beyond our EEZ - unless Vietnam decides to call the other half as the Vietnam Sea," Magno said.

Magno, who teaches political science at the University of the Philippines, said that what is called West Philippine Sea is actually only half of the South China Sea."In which case, should not the technically correct official designation be the West Philippine Half-Sea?" he asked sarcastically.

Magno said that while President Aquino can compel the local map-making agency to refer to the area as the West Philippine Sea, he cannot compel other map-makers around the world to do the same, adding that this could probably need a UN General Assembly resolution.

Columnist of The Philippine Star Carmen Pedrosa said in a recent article that issuing the AO is a provocation and can only add to the animosity between our two countries.

The move does not strengthen the Philippine claim. It puts us back to square one, solving nothing but adding fuel to the conflict, she added.

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