China today launched a blistering attack on the jurists of a UN-backed international tribunal that struck down its claims over the strategic South China Sea, saying a Japanese judge who appointed the arbitrators “manipulated” the judgement against Beijing.
Except for a German judge who was appointed at the instance of the Philippines - the petitioner in the dispute - the rest of the four were appointed by Japanese jurist and diplomat Shunji Yanai, China’s Assistant Foreign Minister Liu Zhenmin told a nationally televised media conference here.
Claiming that the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague has no international status and its judgement can not be enforceable, he specially targeted Yanai saying he is a former Japanese diplomat and assisted Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.
Yanai manipulated the tribunal against China by appointing four judges from different European countries. These judges were not paid by the UN and who has paid them, Liu asked. The judges - all European and one African - living in Europe has no knowledge of Asian history and culture, he said.
China claims almost all of the South China Sea, including reefs and islands also claimed by others, through which USD 5 trillion in trade passes annually.
It had refused to take part in the tribunal proceedings, with officials saying the tribunal had “no jurisdiction”. Following yesterday’s verdict against its claim over the SCS, China immediately said it would defy the decision, which it described as “null and void” with “no binding force.”
Earlier this month, in an article in the ruling Communist Party of China’s mouthpiece magazine ‘Qiushi’, the Chinese assistant foreign minister had cast doubt on the make-up of the tribunal, saying none of the five judges had knowledge of the history and international order of ancient East Asia, according to the Hong Kong-based South China Morning Post.
Liu has said in the article that one of the judges Yanai appointed included a person who had ruled against a party holding a position similar to China in a previous case.
“Leaving aside the obvious violation of procedural justice, we can hardly make a better explanation of Judge Yanai’s motivation and purpose other than that he did it on purpose,” Liu has said.
The tribunal was composed of Judge Thomas A Mensah of Ghana, Judge Jean-Pierre Cot of France, Judge Stanislaw Pawlak of Poland, Professor Alfred H A Soons of The Netherlands, and Judge Rdiger Wolfrum of Germany.
Japanese jurist Yanai has previously defended defended himself in an interview to the ‘Japanese Times’ saying he had to pick up the judges as president of the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea (ITLOS).
“I just happen to be a Japanese, but the annex to the convention provides that in case the arbitrators are not appointed by the parties or by agreement by the parties then the president of ITLOS must do it,” Yanai said.
“As the president of ITLOS, I didn’t act as a Japanese representative. I don’t represent the Japanese at all in the tribunal. That is quite obvious.” China could have chosen a Chinese arbitrator but instead decided to ignore the tribunal, Yanai said.