China: Rejection of the Philippines' arbitration 'in line with law'
Foreign Minister Wang Yi says China's rejection of arbitration filed by the Philippines over terroritorial claims, is in line with the law. His remarks came after talks with his Australian counterpart Julie Bishop in Beijing on Wednesday, as Australia called for a resolution to the South China Sea disputes through peaceful means, including arbitration.
"China is actually following international law by not accepting arbitration regarding sovereign and maritime entitlements. Because after joining the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea in 2006, China issued a declaration according to the rights given to China by Article 298 of the UNCLOS. We issued a government statement excluding China from being subjected to the compulsory settlement measures. The Chinese government will continue to stand by the declaration." said Wang Yi.
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 said.
"Chinese government will certainly stick to this position," Wang said, adding that more than 30 countries, including Australia, have also made similar "exclusive" declarations.
He 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.
Wang said that the Philippines' arbitration attempt violated previous agreements and raised suspicion of its complicated international background or even hidden political motives.
The minister listed reasons why the Philippines' arbitration attempt, first made in 2014 to a UN tribunal, is invalid and unacceptable. He said it was a unilateral move by the Philippines, which goes against international norms on arbitration, and that they have not yet exhausted other means to reach a resolution. Wang Yi also said any deployment of defense facilities on China's own territory would be legitimate.
Wang further said the Philippines not only violated a number of agreements by filing arbitration without China's consent ... but also did not follow the Declaration on the Code of Conduct on the South China Sea. According to him, any arbitration should only be filed after all possible solutions are tried and failed.
"The Philippines betrayed our trust and went against justice to file for arbitration. That made us wonder whether they are making these decisions following complicated international circumstances. They may even have political purposes that they don't want to share," he said.
This was in response to western reports that an advanced surface-to-air missile system was deployed to one of the disputed islands in the South China Sea.
"I hope that media everywhere will turn their attention to the lighthouses that we have built on some of the islands in the South China Sea. They are in operation now and they have been very useful in ensuring the safety of passing ships in those waters. The meteorological forecast facilities and other facilities will provide assistance and rescue and emergency response to the fishing boats in those waters. Because I think all of those are actions China, as the biggest state in the South China Sea, has undertaken to provide more public goods and services to the international community and play a positive role there. " said Wang, " As for the limited and necessary self-defence facilities that China has built on the islands and reefs stationed by Chinese personnel, this is consistent with the self-preservation and self-protection that China is entitled to under international law. So there should be no question about that."
The Chinese Foreign Minister also stressed that demilitarization benefits all, but it can not be applied to only one country, or with double or even multiple standards. He said demilitarization in the South China Sea needs joint efforts from countries both in and outside the region. The Chinese Foreign Minister said China noticed that during the just concluded meetings between the US and ASEAN, the two pledged to achieve demilitarization in the region. He said China hopes they can keep their word. Xinhua
China responds to US's militarizing the South China Sea