SCIO briefing on S. China Sea disputes

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Liu Zhenmin, vice foreign minister

Guo Weimin, vice minister of State Council Information Office

July 13, 2016


You have just mentioned that the white paper focuses on settling disputes through negotiation with the Philippines. Now, the ruling of the arbitration initiated by the Philippines has been rendered. Although China does not recognize, enforce or accept it, the opinions stated by the Philippines have received support from the ruling. My question is: For China, would it be a precondition for the resumption of negotiations that the Philippines should also not accept the ruling? If negotiations were resumed would the issues about sovereignty be absolutely avoided? While China firmly upholds its sovereignty over Nanhai Zhudao and relevant waters, the ruling concluded that China has violated the Philippines' sovereign rights in some respects. Thank you.

Liu Zhenmin:

Some issues need to be solved through negotiation, while others may be shelved during negotiation. Now, the question we are facing is how to negotiate and whether we can return to the negotiation table. China expects the new Filipino government to cooperate and recognize that the ruling is nothing more than a piece of waste paper and cannot be enforced. China hopes that the Filipino side will set aside the award and return to the negotiation table. According to the basic principle of negotiation among countries, the two sides should resume negotiation based on respect for historical facts and in accordance with international law. For years, China and ASEAN countries have been following this principle for bilateral negotiation. Therefore, China and the Philippines will not negotiate based on the ruling. China will not allow any negotiation based on the ruling. We have to make it clear that the focus of our white paper is to "adhere to the position of settling through negotiation the relevant disputes between China and the Philippines in the South China Sea," that is, to leave aside the arbitration ruling and return to the negotiation table. The ruling cannot settle the disputes. Don't expect to settle the disputes through negotiation based on the ruling. We hope that the friends of the Philippines will realize it, and will support our position, not to encourage the Philippines to enforce the ruling. If they do so, it would further escalate tensions among the littoral countries around the South China Sea and the Southeast Asian countries.

Guo Weimin:

This question gives us a clear view of what effects the arbitration has had. First, it has no credibility; second, it adds difficulty to solving the issue. Hence, the arbitration makes no sense.

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