Author Topic: China claims being the victim in sea row  (Read 298 times)

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China claims being the victim in sea row
« on: July 17, 2015, 10:34:10 AM »
By Cherry Salazar | Philippine Star – Thu, Jul 16, 2015



The Chinese government said it would not recognize any ruling made by the arbitration tribunal concerning the maritime case raised by the Philippines before it, claiming that Beijing is the “victim” of the territorial disputes in the South China Sea.

“Being a victim of the South China Sea issue, China, bearing in mind the whole situation of regional peace and stability, however, has been exercising utmost restraint,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying said on Tuesday, according to a Xinhua report.

Hua noted that the disputes between China and the Philippines started with the latter’s “illegal occupation of some islands and reefs of China’s Nansha Islands since the 1970s.”

Last week, the Philippines sent a high-level delegation and foreign law experts, led by Solicitor General Florin Hilbay with assistance from Paul Reichler of US law firm Foley Hoag, to present its oral arguments before the Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) in The Hague, the Netherlands.

The case aimed to resolve whether the international tribunal has jurisdiction over the maritime concern. Reports said a decision would be issued before the end of the year.

If the PCA rules favorably, the Philippines will be given an opportunity to present its arguments on its maritime entitlements in the South China Sea, which it refers to as the West Philippine Sea, and to debunk Beijing’s supposed historical “nine-dash line.”

Hua issued the statement as the hearings at The Hague concluded on Monday.

Hua said the Philippines’ initiation of the arbitration disregarded China’s “legitimate rights bestowed upon her by international law, including the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS)” and breached its commitment to the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea (DOC).

The DOC, signed by China and Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) member-states, stipulates that territorial and jurisdictional disputes within the region shall be resolved by “peaceful means, without resorting to the threat or use of force, through friendly consultations and negotiations.”

“China will never accept any imposed solution or unilaterally resorting to a third-party settlement,” Hua said, urging the Philippines to resort to the “right approach” of negotiation and consultation.

This is the common practice of the international community and has been consistently applied by China, Hua said.

“China has always adhered to and has been committed to resolving, in accordance with international law and on the basis of respecting historical facts, relevant disputes relating to territorial sovereignty and maritime rights and interests with relevant states directly concerned through negotiation and consultation,” she added.

Earlier, Beijing said it is “still open and will be open forever” to possible bilateral talks with the Philippines.

China has been flexing its naval muscles in the South China Sea by its ongoing construction of alleged military installations on reclaimed islands. Among other parties laying claim to these waters are Vietnam, Malaysia, Taiwan and Brunei.

‘Regional troublemaker’

The Chinese Foreign Ministry yesterday called the Philippines the “real regional troublemaker” for reinforcing its rusting ship that has sat on the Ayungin (Second Thomas) Shoal in the disputed Spratly archipelago since 1999.

China demanded the Philippines remove the vessel, adding that it “reserves the right to take further measures” without elaborating on the statement.

The Philippine Navy has been using wooden fishing boats and other small craft to move cement, steel and welding equipment to the BRP Sierra Madre since late last year for repair work aimed at stopping the ship from breaking apart.

The Philippines considers Ayungin Shoal, which lies 105 nautical miles (195 kilometers) southwest of Palawan, as being within its 200-nautical mile exclusive economic zone. China, which claims virtually the entire South China Sea, says the reef is part of its territory.

The 100 meter-long BRP Sierra Madre, a tank landing ship built for the US Navy during World War II but eventually transferred to the Philippines, was deliberately grounded on Ayungin to mark its claim to the reef. A small contingent of Philippine soldiers are stationed onboard.

The Chinese Foreign Ministry said it was “extremely dissatisfied with and resolutely opposed to” the repairs, noting that the Philippines had promised many times to remove the ship. – With Reuters
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