Beijing, March 8
Terming the UN’s arbitration on a raging territorial dispute in the South China Sea as “tainted”, China on Tuesday asserted that it 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 fist 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.
“We want to uphold the peace and freedom of navigation in the SCS,” Wang said, adding, “freedom of navigation does not imply doing whatever you want”.
The SCS has seen “colonial invasion and illegal occupation. Now some people are making waves and some others showing force. However like the tide that comes and goes none of these things will make impact and history will determine who is the real guest and who is the host,” he said.
China he said will not make further claims.
“China has never claimed and will not claim new territories,” he said.
“Not China, but others should be accused of militarising the sea,” he said.
“Besides meeting basic defence needs, China is building more facilities for civilian use, with purposes of offering public services to the international community,” he said and promised to take the international media there after the facilities are completed.
He also said China and the US can consider more maritime cooperation.
China and the US are two major countries, and there are both cooperation and friction between them.
“In the face of problems, our task is to resolve them. We want to expand and deepen cooperation and work hard to turn friction into cooperation,” he said.
“China is not the US, and China will not and cannot become another US. We have no intention of displacing or dominating anybody,” he said. — PTI
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