TOKYO - Following the ruling by the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague on Tuesday, which found that China's claims to much of the South China Sea were invalid, nations in the region were quick to react to the news.
Int'l court backs PH on dispute vs China
The Philippines, which initiated the case in 2013 after China seized control of Scarborough Shoal, welcomed the ruling.
Its Foreign Minister Perfecto Yasay said: "The Philippines strongly affirms its respect for this milestone decision as an important contribution to ongoing efforts in addressing disputes in the South China Sea."
"The Philippines reiterates its abiding commitment to efforts of pursuing the peaceful resolution and management of disputes," he added.
Yasay also said that the Philippines called on all parties to exercise "restraint and sobriety" following the decision.
China, however, had rejected the ruling before it could be announced. It stated at the start of proceedings that the court had no jurisdiction to deal with the case, and has maintained its stance that any disputes in the sea should be dealt with only by those parties concerned.
China, which was accused of causing "irreparable" damage to the marine environment through its land reclamation works, said through its Foreign Ministry that "the award is null and void and has no binding force," and said that "under no circumstances" would its territorial sovereignty and maritime rights and interests in the South China Sea be affected by the ruling.
China rejects Hague tribunal judgement: Xinhua
Taiwan, like China, denounced the ruling, which classified its own Taiping Island as a "rock," also without any rights to an exclusive economic zone.
Taiwan's Presidential Office said in a statement that, because Taipei received no invitation to take part in the hearing and was not consulted during the arbitration process, it found the ruling "unacceptable," and "not legally binding on Taiwan."
Also a claimant in the South China Sea disputes, Taiwan administers Taiping Island -- also known as Itu Aba -- and Ban Than Reef in the Spratly chain, as well as the Dongsha Island atoll, also known as the Pratas Islands.
Vietnam's Foreign Ministry issued a statement welcoming the fact that a ruling had been given, but stopped short of expressing an opinion on the outcome.
It did, however, state that it supported settlement of disputes by peaceful means, without the use of force or threat of force.
Vietnam claims sovereignty over the Spratly and Paracel island chains, and the waters surrounding them.
Malaysia, another claimant, called for parties involved to exercise self-restraint to avoid escalating tension following the ruling.
"Malaysia believes that it is important to maintain peace, security and stability through the exercise of self-restraint in the conduct of activities that may further complicate disputes or escalate tension and avoid the threat or use of force in the South China Sea," the Foreign Ministry said in a statement.
Meanwhile, Indonesia, which is not involved in any land disputes in the South China Sea, but is at odds with some of China's claims of maritime rights and interests in the region, called for restraint by all parties in the wake of the ruling.
A statement from its Foreign Ministry stated that claimants should "not do anything that can increase tension" and should refrain from any "military activities that can threaten peace and stability" in the region.
"All parties in the South China Sea must act in accordance with the principles that have been agreed upon together," it read.
Singapore, also not a claimant but a key power in the region, issued a statement via its Foreign Ministry in which it said it would not take sides in the case, and urged all parties to respect "legal and diplomatic processes."
Away from the immediate vicinity of the South China Sea, Japan and the United States also gave their reactions to the news, with the U.S. stating that it "expresses its hope and expectation that both parties will comply with their obligations (under the ruling)."
Japan's Foreign Minister echoed the sentiment, saying that "as the tribunal's award is final and legally binding...the parties to this case are required to comply."