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Politics & Law

China rejects arbitration with Philippines in South China Sea dispute


A Chinese Coast Guard vessel (R) passes near the Chinese oil rig, Haiyang Shi You 981 (L) in the South China Sea, about 210 km (130 miles) from the coast of Vietnam June 13, 2014.

A Chinese Coast Guard vessel (R) passes near the Chinese oil rig, Haiyang Shi You 981 (L) in the South China Sea, about 210 km (130 miles) from the coast of Vietnam June 13, 2014.

The following commentary is based on media releases by the Chinese government:

Reuters says in its report “China denounces Philippine ‘pressure’ over sea dispute arbitration” yesterday, that China has denounced the Philippines for putting it under pressure with international arbitration on South China Sea territorial disputes.

According to the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs, China has published its position paper raising the following grounds that the dispute is not within the jurisdiction of the Permanent Court of Arbitration at The Hague:

“1. The essence of the subject-matter of the arbitration is the territorial sovereignty over several maritime features in the South China Sea, which is beyond the scope of the Convention and does not concern the interpretation or application of the Convention;

“2. China and the Philippines have agreed, through bilateral instruments and the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea, to settle their relevant disputes through negotiations. By unilaterally initiating the present arbitration, the Philippines has breached its obligation under international law;

“3. Even assuming, arguendo, that the subject-matter of the arbitration were concerned with the interpretation or application of the Convention, that subject-matter would constitute an integral part of maritime delimitation between the two countries, thus falling within the scope of the declaration filed by China in 2006 in accordance with the Convention, which excludes, inter alia, disputes concerning maritime delimitation from compulsory arbitration and other compulsory dispute settlement procedures;

“4. Consequently, the Arbitral Tribunal manifestly has no jurisdiction over the present arbitration. Based on the foregoing positions and by virtue of the freedom of every State to choose the means of dispute settlement, China’s rejection of and non-participation in the present arbitration stand on solid ground in international law.”

I am not an expert of international law so that is in no position to tell whether those grounds are justified. However, just as China has repeatedly point out that even if the arbitration award is favourable for the Philippines, there is no way to enforce it. However, it will intensify the tension between China and the Philippines.

However, in an interview about the report, Mr. Xu Hong, Director-General of the Department of Treaty and Law of the Foreign Ministry, leaves the door open for bilateral negotiation with the Philippines on the disputes. He says, “China urges the Philippines to return as soon as possible to the right track of negotiation to settle the disputes.

“China is also ready to work with all relevant countries to properly resolve their disputes through negotiation and on the basis of respect for historical facts and international law, and strengthen win-win cooperation, to jointly maintain peace and stability in the South China Sea.”

The following is the full text of Reuters report:

China denounces Philippine ‘pressure’ over sea dispute arbitration

China denounced the Philippines on Sunday for putting it under pressure with an international arbitration case over disputed waters, and refused again to participate a week ahead of a deadline to respond in the case.

In a position paper, China outlined its arguments against the jurisdiction of the Permanent Court of Arbitration at The Hague to take up the case filed by the Philippines last year that could have implications for China’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,” China’s foreign ministry said.

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

China has long rejected arbitration, insisting it would resolve disputes bilaterally. The tribunal has given China until Dec. 15 to reply in the case.

Xu Hong, head of the ministry’s legal and treaties department, said the timing of the paper had nothing to do with the deadline, and 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 harbour 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.”

He accused the Philippines of lying when it said it had discussed arbitration with China, 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.”

China’s participation is not required as the tribunal is not meant to resolve the dispute but address the validity of China’s “nine-dash line” as well as the classification of various features under the U.N. Convention on the Law of the Sea to which China is a signatory.

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

A ruling in the Philippines’ favour could undermine parts of China’s claim to the sea, which critics say has an obscure basis under the Convention.

Source: Reuters – “China denounces Philippine ‘pressure’ over sea dispute arbitration”

Sources: The website of Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs “Position Paper of the Government of the People’s Republic of China on the Matter of Jurisdiction in the South China Sea Arbitration Initiated by the Republic of the Philippines” and “Remarks by Mr. Xu Hong, Director-General of the Department of Treaty and Law of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, on the Position Paper of the Government of the People’s Republic of China on the Matter of Jurisdiction in the South China Sea Arbitration Initiated by the Republic of the Philippines”

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About chankaiyee2

Author of the book "Tiananmen's Tremendous Achievements" about how with the help of Tiananmen Protests, talented scholars with moral integrity seized power in the Party and state and brought prosperity to China. The second edition of the book will be published within a few days to mark the 25th anniversary of Tiananmen Protests All the parts in the first edition remain in the second edition with a few changes due to information available later and better understanding. There are also some changes for improvements of style. The new parts are Chapters 12-19 on events in China after the first edition was published: The fierce power struggle for succession between reformists and conservatives; Xi Jinping winning all elders’ support during his mysterious disappearance for 2 weeks in early September, 2012; and Xi Jinping Cyclone. Chan Kai Yee's new book: SPACE ERA STRATEGY: The Way China Beats The US An eye-opening book that tells the truth how the US is losing to China. The US is losing as it adopts the outdated strategy of Air-Sea Battle while China adopts the space era strategy to pursue integrated space and air capabilities: It is losing due to its diplomacy that has given rise to Russian-Chinese alliance. US outdated strategy has enabled China to catch up and surpass the US in key weapons: Hypersonic weapons (HGV) that Pentagon regards as the weapon that will dominate the world in the future. Aerospaceplane in China’s development of space-air bomber that can engage enemy anywhere in the world within an hour and destroy an entire aircraft carrier battle group within minutes. Anti-satellite (ASAT) weapons, anti-ASAT weapons, stealth aircrafts, drones, AEW&C, etc. The book gives detailed descriptions of China’s weapon development based on information mainly from Chinese sources that the author monitors closely. U.S. Must Not Be Beaten by China! China is not a democracy. Its political system cannot prevent the emergence of a despotic leader or stop such a leader when he begins to bring disasters to people. A few decades ago, Mao Zedong, the worst tyrant in world history did emerge and bring disasters to Chinese people. He wanted to fight a nuclear war to replace capitalism with communism but could not bring nuclear holocaust to world people as China was too weak and poor at that time. If a despot like Mao Zedong emerges when China has surpassed the US in military strength, world people will suffer the misery experienced by Chinese people in Mao era. China surpassing the US in GDP is not something to worry about as China has the heavy burden to satisfy its huge population, but China surpassing the US in military strength will be world people’s greatest concern if China remains an autocracy. US people are of much better quality than Chinese people. What they lack is a wise leader to adopt the correct strategy and diplomacy and the creative ways to use its resources in developing its military capabilities. I hope that with the emergence of a great leader, the US can put an end to its decline and remain number one in the world. China, US, space era strategy, air-sea battle, space-air bomber, arms race, weapon development, chan kai yee

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