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The Philippines has officially requested the United Nations to recognize its rights over the undersea continental shelf in the South China Sea, marking a significant move against China’s extensive territorial claims.

The Philippine Department of Foreign Affairs announced on Saturday that it submitted detailed scientific research on the extent of its continental shelf off the coast of Palawan to the UN Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf. This submission follows more than fifteen years of research and aims to establish exclusive rights to resource exploitation in the region.

In a statement, Philippine Foreign Assistant Secretary Marshall Louis Alferez said, “Today, we secure our future by making a manifestation of our exclusive right to explore and exploit natural resources in our extended continental shelf entitlement.” He added, “The seabed and the subsoil extending from our archipelago up to the maximum extent allowed by UNCLOS hold significant potential resources that will benefit our nation and our people for generations to come.”

Although China has yet to respond, Beijing is anticipated to oppose the Philippines’ initiative. The contested seabed area includes the Spratly Islands, which are also claimed by China, Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei, and Taiwan. Indonesia faces similar confrontations in the Natuna Sea.

The 1982 UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) allows coastal states exclusive rights to exploit resources in their continental shelf, potentially extending up to 350 nautical miles. This could lead to overlaps with other coastal states like Vietnam, and the Philippines has indicated a willingness to resolve such overlaps through UNCLOS-based discussions.


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