China continues to belittle PH court win in sea row as ‘a piece of waste paper’
MANILA, Philippines — China continues to disregard the Philippines’ 2016 landmark victory at the Permanent Court of Arbitration, calling the ruling that invalidated Beijing’s expansive claims in the South China Sea “nothing more than a piece of waste paper.”
As Manila marked on Monday, July 12, five years since its historic win at the United Nations-backed court in The Hague, Beijing insisted that the ruling was “illegal, null and void.”
“The South China Sea arbitration violated the principle of state consent and the arbitral tribunal exercised its jurisdiction ultra vires and rendered an award in disregard of law,” Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Zhao Lijian said in his regular press briefing.
“The award of the arbitration is illegal, null, and void. It is nothing more than a piece of waste paper. China does not accept or participate in the arbitration, nor does it accept or recognize the award,” he added.
He further said China’s claims over the South China Sea remain unaffected “at all by the arbitration.”
“China does not accept any claim or act based on it,” Zhao added.
He also claimed that the arbitration was nothing but a “political farce” supposedly initiated and controlled by the United States in an effort to “smear and suppress China.”
“The political agenda of the US to hype up the South China Sea issue by taking advantage of the 5th anniversary of the illegal award can’t be more obvious,” he added.
China hits back at US
Earlier, United States Secretary of State Antony Blinken called on China to end its “provocative behavior” in the contested waterway. The U.S. also accused China of coercing and intimidating Southeast Asian coastal states as well as “threatening freedom of navigation” in the area.
This inevitably did not sit well with Beijing, as Zhao expressed China’s strong dissatisfaction over Blinken’s statement.
— ChineseEmbassyManila (@Chinaembmanila) July 12, 2021
“It deliberately stokes disputes on territorial sovereignty and maritime rights and interests, sows discord among regional countries, and undermines regional peace and stability,” Zhao said. “This is extremely irresponsible.”
The ministry spokesperson, meanwhile, argued that China “advocates friendly negotiations and consultations to settle the South China Sea issue.”
China, according to Zhao, “treats our South China Sea neighbors as equals and exercises maximum restraint when safeguarding our sovereignty, rights, and interests in the South China Sea.”
Zhao went on to turn the tables on Washington, claiming that the Western country “sends large-scale advanced vessels and aircraft to the South China Sea for military reconnaissance and drills and illegally intruded into China’s territorial waters and space and water and air space adjacent to islands and reefs.”
“Since the beginning of this year, the US side conducted close-in reconnaissance for nearly 2,000 times and over 20 large-scale military drills on the sea. What’s more, the US abuses bilateral military agreements that smack of the Cold War to threat to use force on China,” Zhao said.
“This exposes its power politics logic and hegemonic practices. It is self-evident who is seeking coercion and intimidation and threatening freedom and security of navigation,” he added.
‘Smooth and safe’
“The South China Sea is one of the busiest sea lanes in the world and the lifeline of China’s maritime trade. Some 30 percent of global trade in goods and each year about 100,000 merchant vessels transit through the South China Sea,” Zhao said.
He claimed that under the joint efforts of countries in the region, passage through the South China Sea “has been smooth and safe for a period of time, and not a single vessel has ever reported that it’s navigation is hindered or safety threatened in the South China Sea.”
Hence, the allegation of the U.S. that freedom of navigation in the South China Sea is threatened would be “simply untenable,” according to Zhao.
Meanwhile, Zhao pointed to the “major progress” being made in the consultations on the Code of Conduct in the South China Sea between Southeast Asian countries and China.
The Code of Conduct is an accord that seeks to prevent the escalation of tensions in the disputed waterway.
“The South China Sea is the shared home for the countries in the region. It should not be a hunting field for the US to seek geopolitical self-interests. China and countries concerned have effectively managed differences through dialogue and consultation and continuously promoted practical cooperation,” the Chinese official said.
He then reiterated China’s call to the U.S. as well as other countries outside the region to “respect the regional countries’ efforts in maintaining peace and stability in the South China Sea.”
“China will continue to firmly defend its sovereignty, rights, interests, and security in accordance with law, firmly protect the friendly, cooperative relations with regional countries, and firmly safeguard peace and stability in the South China Sea,” he added.
Philippine Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. earlier said that the 2016 arbitral award was “final,” adding that Manila “firmly” rejected any attempts to undermine it.
The fifth-year celebration of Manila’s victory has been marked with numerous and succeeding diplomatic protests filed by the Department of Foreign Affairs over recent Chinese incursions in the West Philippine Sea.
Subscribe to our global nation newsletter
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.