BEIJING – China’s Foreign Ministry has urged the U.S. to live up to its pledge of not taking sides on the South China Sea issue on Friday and reaffirmed that the U.S. is not a party concerned.
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Lu Kang made the remarks while responding to a recent comment by Daniel Russell, assistant U.S. secretary of state for east Asian and Pacific affairs.
In his recent speech at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, Russell implied that arbitration is the only practical means left for China and the Philippines to solve competing claims in the South China Sea. He also touched upon issues concerning entitlement of maritime features and jurisdiction of the arbitral tribunal.
Lu said Russell’s comment is attempting to push forward the Philippines’ unilateral move on arbitration of the South China Sea issue.
The U.S. acts like an “arbitrator outside the tribunal”, designating the direction for the arbitral tribunal established at the request of the Philippines, Lu said.
This is inconsistent with the stance the U.S. claims to uphold on the South China Sea issue, Lu said, and he also urged the U.S. not to undermine regional peace and stability.
Lu said China’s position of neither accepting nor participating in the arbitration unilaterally initiated by the Philippines remains unchanged.
On Jan. 22, 2013, the Philippines unilaterally initiated compulsory arbitration proceedings with respect to the relevant issues between China and the Philippines in the South China Sea. Since then, the Philippines has obstinately pushed for the above-mentioned arbitration proceedings despite repeated objections of China.
According to Lu, in 2006, the Chinese government made a declaration in pursuance of Article 298 of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), excluding disputes regarding such matters as those related to maritime delimitation and historic titles from the compulsory dispute settlement procedures including arbitration.
That is a proper practice of exercising the rights to which China is entitled under the international law as a state party to the UNCLOS, Lu said.
According to Lu, the Philippines’ initiation of the arbitration ignored China’s legitimate rights under such international laws as the UNCLOS, and breached commitments made by the Philippines not to unilaterally seek arbitration.
Lu said China’s stance is based on international law and has been clearly stated in the position paper published by the Foreign Ministry in December last year in response to the arbitration.
The Chinese government published a Position Paper on Dec. 7, 2014, to elaborate on the legal basis for China’s position on the arbitration proceedings. It says that the Arbitral Tribunal manifestly has no jurisdiction in this case.
According to the Position Paper, China and the Philippines have agreed, through bilateral instruments and the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea, to settle their relevant disputes through negotiation. It says by unilaterally initiating the present arbitration, the Philippines has violated its obligation under international law.