China says PH arbitration 'tainted'

Reuters

Posted at Mar 08 2016 02:00 PM | Updated as of Mar 08 2016 09:42 PM

A Philippine flag flutters on BRP Sierra Madre, a dilapidated Philippine Navy ship that has been aground since 1999, on the disputed Second Thomas Shoal, part of the Spratly Islands. Reuters

BEIJING - China is acting fully in line with the law for not accepting the South China Sea arbitration filed by the Philippines, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said on Tuesday.

Foreign ministry says China will 'not participate' in S. China Sea arbitration case

He told a press conference on the sideline of the fourth session of the 12th National People's Congress that "Back in 2006, the Chinese government exercised its right under Article 298 of United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), and issued a declaration that excludes compulsory arbitration. More than 30 other countries have also issued similar declarations."

"Legally speaking, these declarations are an integral part of the UNCLOS, and must be respected by other parties. By not accepting the arbitration, the Chinese government is acting entirely in accordance with the law," Wang said.

"In contrast, what the Philippines has done is unlawful, unfaithful and unreasonable. It has violated its own commitments in bilateral agreements with China, breached Article Four of the DOC, and broken the international practice that arbitration has to be mutually agreed. The Philippines’ stubbornness is clearly the result of behind-the-scenes instigation and political maneuvering. The so-called arbitration has become tainted and gone astray, and China is not going to humor it."

Wang said China is the first to discover, name, develop and govern the South China islands and Chinese have been living and working on the islands for generations.

"We know and love the place more than anyone else. And we want to safeguard peace, stability and freedom of navigation in the area more than anyone else."

READ: South China Sea fishing activities proof of China's maritime rights -official

"The South China Sea has been subject to colonial invasion and illegal occupation and now some people are trying to stir up waves while some others are showing off forces. However, like the tide that comes and goes, none of these attempts will have any impact. History will prove who is merely the guest and who is the real host," Wang said.

China has come under fire from the United States and its allies in recent months over its land reclamation activities in the South China Sea, through which $5 trillion in ship-borne trade passes annually.

The U.S. Navy has carried out freedom of navigation exercises, sailing near disputed islands to underscore its rights to operate in the seas.

Those patrols, and reports that China is deploying advanced missiles, fighters and radar equipment on islands there, have led Washington and Beijing to trade accusations of militarizing the region.

Beijing claims almost all of the South China Sea, but Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines, Taiwan and Vietnam have overlapping claims.

U.S. Defense Secretary Ash Carter has warned of "specific consequences" if China takes "aggressive" action in the region.

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