Won’t accept arbitration on South China Sea, says Beijing

Beijing, June 30 (IANS) China reaffirmed on Thursday that it will not accept a third party dispute settlement or any solution imposed on China over South China Sea dispute.

Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hong Lei made the remarks at a routine press briefing when asked to comment on the Arbitral Tribunal’s claim that it would soon issue the final award of the South China Sea arbitration unilaterally initiated by the Philippines, Xinhua news agency reported.

Hong reiterated that the Arbitral Tribunal has no jurisdiction over the case nor the subject-matter, and that it should not have heard the case or rendered the award.

On January 22, 2013, the Philippines initiated the arbitration on the relevant disputes between China and the Philippines in the South China Sea.

China immediately declared that it would neither accept nor participate in the arbitration, a position that it has reiterated, said Hong.

By unilaterally initiating the so-called “international arbitration”, the Philippines ignored the common understanding that China and the Philippines had reached on solving the disputes through negotiations, and its commitments under the Declaration on the Conduct (DOC) of Parties in the South China Sea, he said.

On the basis of bilateral agreements and the DOC, China and the Philippines have chosen negotiation as the means to resolve their disputes rather than arbitration.

“The Philippines’ act is an abuse of international law and the international arbitration mechanism,” he said.

He noted that the essence of the subject-matter of the arbitration is the territorial sovereignty over some islands and reefs in the South China Sea, which is beyond the scope of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) and does not concern the interpretation or application of the UNCLOS.

“Such acts infringe on the right of a state party to UNCLOS to choose means of dispute settlement of its own will, and undermined the integrity of the UNCLOS dispute settlement regime,” he said.

With regard to territorial issues and maritime delimitation disputes, China does not accept third party dispute settlements or any imposed solution, he said.

Hong said the government will continue to abide by international law and basic norms governing international relations, as enshrined in the Charter of the United Nations, and will continue to work with states directly concerned to resolve the relevant disputes in the South China Sea through negotiation.

–IANS

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