Terming the UN’s arbitration on a raging territorial dispute in the South China Sea as “tainted”, China Tuesday asserted that will not honour the outcome of the tribunal in the strategically vital area.
“The Philippines stubbornness is clearly the result of the behind scenes instigation and political manoeuvring,” Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said at his annual press conference, in a veiled attack on the US for its backing to the Philippines and the maritime neighbours of China in the South China Sea (SCS) dispute.
China refuses to recognise the case lodged by the Philippines with the tribunal and says all disputes should be resolved through bilateral talks.
“This so called arbitration has become tainted and gone astray and China is not going to honour it,” Wang said.
Asked whether China is worried about the likelihood of the Philippines winning its petition on its claims on the SCS islands at the UN Conference of the Law of Sea (UNCLOS), Wang said it is too early to judge the outcome of the case.
“I respect your right to ask the question. Perhaps you are judging the outcome of the UNCLOS arbitration case and it is too early to tell,” he said.
China has already made a declaration at the UNCLOS back in 2006 excluding itself from the arbitration under the article 290 of the tribunal; Wang said adding that over 30 other countries made similar declarations excluding themselves.
“So in legal terms these declarations are part of UNCLOS and must be respected by other parties,” he said.
“So by not accepting arbitration case China is acting entirely legal. Whereas the Philippines stand is unlawful and unfaithful and unreasonable,” he said.
Wang again reaffirmed China’s claims on the whole of the SCS stating that “China is the first one to discover, name develop the SCS islands”.
“Our ancestors lived and worked here for ages. We know the place and love it more than anyone else,” he said.
China’s stand on the SCS is strongly contested by the Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei and Taiwan which had counter claims on the islands and reefs, which believed to have rich oil and mineral deposits.
The US in a bid to assert the freedom of the navigation in the region has sent its naval ships and aircraft to counter Chinese claims.
Wang defended China building defence facilities in the SCS, saying that they belonged to it.
“China exercises the right of self defence entitled by the international law,” he said, rejecting allegations that China militarised the region.
Wang said China will uphold the freedom of navigation of the SCS over which a host of countries, including India and US have expressed concerns.