ICC complaint vs China’s Xi a 'fabrication', says envoy

Dharel Placido, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Apr 01 2019 04:37 PM

MANILA - Chinese Ambassador to the Philippines Zhao Jianhua on Monday labeled as a “fabrication” the complaint filed by a group of Filipinos against Chinese President Xi Jinping before the International Criminal Court (ICC).

Former foreign affairs secretary Albert del Rosario and former Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales joined a group of fisherman in filing a complaint, formally called a communication, against Xi over China’s aggressive actions in the South China Sea.

Speaking to reporters, Zhao described the complaint as “a kind of political action viciously targeting the Chinese leadership.”

“We don't think it is a proper action that is based on facts. It's a fabrication and also a misuse of the mandate of the ICC,” he said.

He added that the ICC complaint will not prosper because "I don't think it's appropriate."

Zhao said President Rodrigo Duterte assured Chinese officials that the Philippine government was not involved in the complaint.

Carpio, Del Rosario, and the Filipino fishermen filed the communication to the ICC on March 13, a few days before the Philippines effectively withdrew from the international body on March 17.

In the complaint, the group said Xi and other Chinese officials committed crimes against humanity in implementing Beijing's "systematic plan to control the South China Sea."

The ICC, which received the communication on March 15, has jurisdiction over crimes committed during the period the Philippines was a member of the international body from Nov. 1, 2011 to March 17, 2019.

President Rodrigo Duterte ordered the country's withdrawal from the tribunal after it initiated an examination into alleged crimes against humanity under his drug war.

The Philippines in 2016 defeated China in a United Nations-backed arbitral tribunal, which invalidated Beijing’s economic claim to the strategic sea lane.

Duterte, however, has chosen to set aside the ruling in exchange for better economic ties with Asia’s largest economy.

China has ignored the ruling and insists it has sovereignty over the waters. Duterte, meanwhile, has raised little opposition to China’s reported military activities in the area.

Duterte had said that despite his government’s rapprochement with China, he would never surrender the country’s claims to the sea and would bring up Manila’s arbitration victory against Beijing at the appropriate time.