South China Sea: Ruling may 'open Pandora's box'

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A senior publicity official has warned that the possible South China Sea ruling by an arbitration panel may "set a dangerous precedent and open a Pandora's box in the sea".

Jiang Jianguo, minister of the State Council Information Office, said on Thursday at a forum in Beijing that as the United States has sent aircraft carriers and strategic bombers to the region, its accusation that China is militarizing the sea is "a bad joke".

Jiang was speaking as the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague is thought to be near issuing its ruling on arbitration unilaterally launched by the Philippines, and Washington pressures Beijing to accept the decision.

Jiang was speaking as the Arbitral Tribunal, established under UNCLOS appendix VII, in The Hague is thought to be near issuing its ruling on arbitration unilaterally launched by the Philippines and Washington pressures Beijing to accept the decision.

The US, an outsider to the region, "gets directly engaged in South China Sea disputes", Jiang said, and its actions have "aggravated China's concerns about damage to its interests".

Jiang said some Western media have issued biased reports and distorted and ignored the facts of the South China Sea issue, such as that no country challenged China's sovereignty there before the 1970s.

"Hopefully, the truth about the South China Sea will be introduced to Africa and people in the world," Jiang told the forum delegates.

Mam Sait Ceesay, of The Standard Newspaper in Gambia, said evidence shows the islands belong to China, not the Philippines, and "a lot of misinformation" is being orchestrated by some media.

Ikenna Emewu, Beijing bureau chief of Nigeria's The Sun newspaper, said the US is not a claimant in the dispute and non-claimants should not aggravate the problems.

Many countries, including Russia, India, Cambodia, Uganda, Gambia and Algeria support China's call for peaceful negotiations rather than arbitration.

On Wednesday, the South African Department of International Relations and Cooperation said the country "supports the position that the sovereign states that are directly concerned should resolve their disputes through direct consultations and negotiations".

Asked about the number of countries supporting China's stance, Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying noted that some Chinese online media have said it is 47, and the actual number may be higher and "is increasing every day".

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