China refuses South China Sea arbitration award

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Chinese government on Tuesday refused to recognize the award by an arbitral tribunal on the South China Sea, insisting that bilateral negotiations should settle the dispute.

President Xi Jinping said China's territorial sovereignty and maritime interests in the South China Sea will not be affected by the award in any circumstances.

In a press release accompanying the 479-page award, the five-member tribunal offered a summary of its decision, which almost completely accepted the claims filed by the administration of former Philippine President Benigno S. Aquino III.

The arbitration was "a political farce under the pretext of law," said Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi after the award was announced.

"Now the farce is over," the minister said. "It is time that things come back to normal."


The Philippine government initiated the arbitration in January 2013 and in February, the Chinese government declared that it would neither participate in nor accept any outcome of the process.

In a statement Tuesday, the Foreign Ministry said the award "is null and void and has no binding force". It accused the Philippines of "bad faith," saying that the aim was not to resolve the dispute nor to maintain peace and stability, but simply to deny China's territorial sovereignty and maritime rights and interests.

"The conduct of the Arbitral Tribunal and its awards ... are unjust and unlawful," the statement said.

There is plenty of evidence that the Nansha Islands and adjacent waters are Chinese territory. The Chinese people were the first to name and develop the islands and it was the Chinese government that first asserted sovereignty over them.

A group of Chinese and Iranian scholars recently published research findings from a series of maps drawn by Persian and Arabian geographers from the ninth to 17th centuries, which show the disputed waters and islands as Chinese territory.

Victor Gao, a current affairs commentator and director of the China National Association of International Studies, told Xinhua that the establishing of the tribunal was a serious breach of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) and of China's rights as a State Party under the UNCLOS.

"The tribunal is the tool of a handful of countries. It is in essence illegal, and the outcome is not binding," he said.

The arbitration and the out-of-bad-faith dramatization and political manipulation that ensued have putt the South China Sea issue to a dangerous situation, with growing tension and confrontation, Wang Yi said.

It is detrimental to peace and stability in the region, and it does not serves the common interests of China and the Philippines, countries in the region or the wider international community, he said.


The award has barely sent a ripple to islanders who have fished in the waters for generations.

Tanmen, a township in south China's Hainan Province, has almost 5,000 fishermen, including nearly 1,000 who regularly work in the Xisha, Zhongsha and Nansha island groups and surrounding waters

Lu Jiabing, 66-year-old fisherman from Tanmen, was puzzled by the news about the award.

"For many generations, our ancestors sailed into that waters that we consider part of our home. No court can change that," he said.

On social media "South China Sea arbitration" is drawing disappointment and anger.

"I will firmly stand by my country. Not a slice of China's territory should be compromised," wrote Weibo user "Shinianxuyuan."

Some protested about the United States and some other countries meddling in the issue and exacerbating the situation.

"Please don't make a mess in the South China Sea under the name of doing good. It is our territory, not your business," said "Huahua_Gloria."

Taiwan said Tuesday that it "absolutely will not accept" the arbitration result and that the decision "is not legally binding."

So far more than 60 countries have publicly voiced support for China's stance.

When co-chairing the 18th China-EU Summit on Tuesday, Chinese Premier Li Keqiang said by not accepting nor recognizing the award, China is in fact safeguarding the international law.

Li called on the European Union to maintain an objective stance and neutrality on the issue.


The Foreign Ministry stressed that China does not accept any third party settlement nor any imposed solution.

To resolve the disputes, China will continue to work with states directly concerned through negotiations on the basis of historical facts and international law, it said.

"China respects and upholds freedom of navigation and overflight enjoyed by all states under international law in the South China Sea, and stays ready to work with other coastal states and the international community to ensure the safety of and the unimpeded access to international shipping lanes," read a separate missive "Statement of the Government of the People's Republic of China on China's Territorial Sovereignty and Maritime Rights and Interests in the South China Sea".

Also on Tuesday, China tested two new airports on the Nansha Islands, adding more landing choices for flights across the South China Sea. The airports are to facilitate transportation, emergency rescue and medical services for people on the islands.

A Cessna CE-680 from the flight inspection center of the Civil Aviation Administration of China flew between the new airports on the Meiji and Zhubi reefs.

Making his remarks before the arbitration award, Yang Yujun, spokesman for the Ministry of National Defense, said that no matter how the tribunal decides, Chinese military will resolutely protect its national sovereignty, security and maritime rights and interests; safeguard regional peace and stability; and cope with all kinds of threats and challenges.

The Chinese navy conducted a combat drill in waters adjacent to south China's Hainan Island and Xisha Islands on Friday, which Yang insisted was a routine matter in line with the military's annual exercise plan.

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