Mon, Dec 08, 2014 - Page 4 News List

Beijing pans Manila over South China Sea tribunal

ARBITRARY ACCUSATIONS:A Chinese official said the Philippines lied about Beijing rejecting arbitration, saying it refuses to participate because Manila acted ‘unilaterally’

Reuters, BEIJING

China denounced the Philippines yesterday for putting it under pressure with an international arbitration case over disputed waters. Beijing again refused to participate in the legal procedure, with only a week left until a deadline for it to respond to the motion.

In a position paper, China outlined its arguments against the jurisdiction of the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague to take up the case filed by Manila last year that could have implications for Beijing’s claims over the South China Sea.

“Its underlying goal is not ... to seek peaceful resolution of the South China Sea issue, but rather, by resorting to arbitration, to put political pressure on China, so as to deny China’s lawful rights in the South China Sea through the so-called ‘interpretation or application’ of the Convention,” the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs said, referring to the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea, to which China is a signatory.

Beijing claims almost the entire South China Sea, rejecting claims to parts of it from Taiwan, Vietnam, the Philippines, Malaysia and Brunei. It is also embroiled a dispute with Japan over islands in the East China Sea, which Taiwan also claims.

China has long rejected arbitration to resolve the disputes, insisting it would resolve them bilaterally. The tribunal has given China until Monday next week to reply to the Philippines’ filing.

Xu Hong (徐虹), head of the ministry’s legal and treaties department, said the timing of the paper had nothing to do with the deadline, adding that it had taken time to prepare China’s arguments for why it was not participating in arbitration.

“Some people, who do not know the truth, have questioned China’s position of not accepting or participating in the arbitration,” he told a news conference. “Some others, who harbor ulterior motives, have made one-sided and misleading readings of the rules of international law, and, on that basis, made accusations or insinuations that China does not abide by law and perversely brand China a ‘challenger’ to international rules.”

Xu accused Manila of lying when it said it had discussed arbitration with Beijing and of failing to respond to Chinese proposals for talks.

“The Philippines is keenly aware of the importance of addressing the issue through peaceful negotiations, but it still unilaterally initiated a compulsory dispute settlement procedure. Of course China cannot accept this,” Xu said.

China’s participation is not required as the tribunal is not meant to resolve the dispute, but address the validity of Beijing’s “nine-dash line,” as well as the classification of various features under the UN convention.

China’s claim is represented on its maps by a nine-dash line that loops out from its coast and into the disputed waters.

A ruling in the Philippines’ favor could undermine parts of China’s territorial claims in the sea, which critics say have an obscure basis under the convention.

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