China rejects arbitration anew | Global News

China rejects arbitration anew

MANILA, Philippines–China insisted Sunday that the United Nations arbitral tribunal has no jurisdiction over the case filed by the Philippines against Beijing’s vast territorial claims in the South China Sea.

In a position paper posted on its website, the Chinese foreign ministry said Manila violated international law when it went directly to the United Nations after the two sides agreed to settle disputes bilaterally. China said it was not changing its position not to participate in the UN arbitration case.

“We’re studying it and will issue a statement in due course, if warranted and appropriate,” Charles Jose, spokesman for the Department of Foreign Affairs said in a text message.


China’s rejection came a week before the Dec. 15 deadline given by the tribunal operating under the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (Unclos) for Beijing to respond to the Philippine challenge filed in January last year.


“No acceptance by China is signified in this position paper   of the views or claims advanced by the Philippines, whether or not they are referred to herein. Nor shall this position paper be regarded as China’s acceptance of or participation in this arbitration,” the paper said.

‘Beyond Unclos scope’

China said the Philippine claims were “in essence one of territorial sovereignty over several maritime features in the South China Sea” and that this was “beyond the scope” of the Unclos and did not “concern the interpretation or application of the convention.”

“Consequently, the arbitral tribunal has no jurisdiction over the claims of the Philippines for arbitration,” it said.

China maintained that it had “indisputable sovereignty” over the South China Sea islands and the adjacent waters and claimed that it was the Philippines since the ’70s that had been illegally occupying islands there, including the Kalayaan Island Group, as well as illegally exploring and exploiting resources.

It said the general principle of international law was that “sovereignty over land territory is the basis for the determination of maritime rights.”


“As far as the present arbitration is concerned, without first having determined China’s territorial sovereignty over the maritime features in the South China Sea, the arbitral tribunal will not be in a position to determine the extent to which China may claim maritime rights in the South China Sea pursuant to the Convention, not to mention whether China’s claims exceed the extent allowed under the Convention,” it said, adding that the issue of territorial sovereignty was not within the purview of the Unclos.

‘Cart before horse’

The paper said the Philippines was “putting the cart before the horse” when it sought arbitration. It said the Philippines was trying to deny China’s sovereignty over the entire Nansha Islands or Spratly Islands even if Manila only wanted to clarify some of the features there. China said the Philippines did not mention the islands that it had illegally occupied.

China said the Philippines had agreed since 1995 to settle territorial disputes through negotiations. It cited agreements, the latest in 2011 during the visit of President Aquino to China where the two countries agreed to settle disputes peacefully.

It said these bilateral instruments meant that a third party was excluded in any settlement of disputes between the two nations.

China also contended that even if assuming that the Philippines’ case against it had to do with the interpretation or application of the Unclos in the dispute, “it would still be an integral part of the dispute of maritime delimitation between the two states,” but this could not be subjected to compulsory arbitration under the Unclos.

It said that in 2006, China made a declaration that it will not accept any of the compulsory dispute settlement procedures in the Unclos, including compulsory arbitration.

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China has the right to choose the means of dispute settlement and that its rejection and nonparticipation in the Philippine case in the UN tribunal are “solidly grounded in international law.”

TAGS: China, Philippines, sea dispute, sea row, South China Sea

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