China’s non-acceptance of the “unilateral” arbitration filed by the Philippines with the UN on the South China Sea issue is merely observing the law, Foreign Minister Wang Yi said today, asserting that Beijing will “stick” to its stand.
Wang’s comments came after Australia called for a solution to the South China Sea (SCS) disputes through peaceful means, including arbitration.
China in 2006 declared it would not accept arbitration of disputes concerning territorial sovereignty and maritime rights, in accordance with the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), Wang told reporters after talks with his Australian counterpart Julie Bishop here.
“Chinese government will certainly stick to this position,” Wang was quoted as saying by the official Xinhua news agency.
He said that more than 30 countries, including Australia, have also made similar “exclusive” declarations.
The Chinese Foreign Minister’s comments came amid reports that China has deployed a battery of long-range surface-to-air missiles on one of the disputed islands in the South China Sea.
During the press conference, Wang also gave a list of reasons why the Philippines’ arbitration attempt is “invalid and unacceptable, including unilateral moves without consulting China, which goes against international norms, as well as the common sense argument that arbitration applications are usually lodged only when all other means are depleted.”
China and the Philippines have several agreements that disputes should be solved through dialogue and consultation.
The Philippines has also signed the fourth article of the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea (DOC), which states that disputes should be solved by those countries directly related, through negotiation and consultation.
The Philippines’ arbitration attempt “violated previous agreements and raised suspicion of its complicated international background or even hidden political motives,” Wang said.
The Asia Pacific region has witnessed tension after China flexed its military muscle in the resource-rich South China Sea. Over half of the world’s commercial shipping passes through the waterways in the South China Sea.
China claims almost the whole of the South China Sea, resulting in overlapping claims with several other Asian nations like Vietnam and the Philippines, Malaysia and Brunei.
They accuse China of illegally reclaiming land in contested areas to create artificial islands with facilities that could potentially be for military use.
The US has criticised Beijing for building artificial islands in the disputed sea, and has flown a B-52 bomber and sailed a guided-missile destroyer near some of the constructions China has made in recent months.