Chinese embassy claims arbitral award in favor of PH 'illegal', 'invalid'

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jul 13 2020 10:45 PM | Updated as of Jul 14 2020 09:40 AM

This photo taken on May 14, 2019, a Philippine coast guard ship (right) sails past a Chinese coastguard ship during an joint search and rescue exercise between Philippine and US coastguards near Scarborough shoal, in the South China Sea. Ted Aljibe, AFP

MANILA - The Chinese embassy in Manila on Monday claimed that the Permanent Court of Arbitration's ruling in favor of the Philippines in 2016 over disputed areas in the West Philippine Sea is "illegal and invalid".

In a statement released on the occasion of the 4th anniversary of the verdict, China insisted that both the arbitration and the Philippines' victory are "illegal and invalid".

"China's position is consistent, clear and firm. The South China Sea arbitration and its so-called award are illegal and invalid. China does not accept or participate in the arbitration, nor does it accept or recognize the so-called award," the embassy said in a statement.

The Chinese government also said that its "sovereignty and maritime rights" in the area will not be affected by the ruling.

"China firmly opposes and will never accept any claim or action based on aforesaid award. It has to be highlighted that China and the Philippines have already reached consensus on properly handling the so-called arbitration case, which has laid down solid ground for the turning-around of bilateral relations," the embassy claimed.

Beijing said it hopes that with the current state of China-Philippines relations, the two country can work together to uphold peace and stability in the South China Sea.

"It is hoped that the Philippines could make concerted efforts with China in jointly securing the hard-won sound momentum of bilateral relations and upholding peace and stability in the South China Sea," the Embassy said.

On July 12 four years ago, the Permanent Court of Arbitration ruled in favor of the Philippines' arguments for maritime entitlements over the West Philippine Sea, rejecting China's claims in the resource-rich area.

In a statement on Sunday, the Department of Foreign Affairs said the Philippines’ arbitration victory against China is “non-negotiable”.

“The Tribunal authoritatively ruled that China’s claim of historic rights to resources within the sea areas falling within the ‘nine-dash line’ had no basis in law,” Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. said in a statement.

He also said the Philippines, as a law-abiding, peace-loving and responsible member of the international community, reaffirms its adherence to the award and its enforcement without any possibility of compromise or change.

China however has rejected the arbitral win, with no less than Chinese President Xi Jinping telling President Rodrigo Duterte this ruling during their bilateral meeting in Beijing last year.

China has instead ramped up its militarization efforts in the vital waterway.

Last April, the DFA filed a diplomatic protest against China after a Chinese warship pointed a radar gun at a Philippine Navy ship in the West Philippine Sea.

In June last year, a Chinese vessel collided with a Filipino fishing boat and sank it, and then left the boat’s crew floating in the middle of the sea.

Meanwhile former Foreign Affairs chief Albert del Rosario said Duterte can still raise the country’s arbitral win “before the world.”

“In the remaining years of his term, we believe that our president still has the opportunity to fulfill his promise to the Filipino people to raise the Award: this time, not before the Chinese President, but before the world.” Del Rosario said in a text message.

Last May, Indonesia cited the Philippines’ arbitral win in its own sea dispute with China.

“Indonesia reiterates that the Nine-Dash line map implying historic rights claim clearly lacks international legal basis and is tantamount to upset UNCLOS 1982,” said Indonesia’s Permanent Mission to the United Nations in the letter delivered on May 26.

China’s expansive claims in the South China Sea has brought it into dispute with the Philippines, Indonesia, Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei and Taiwan.