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China releases position paper on South China Sea

CCTV.com

12-07-2014 12:42 BJT

China’s Foreign Ministry has released a Position Paper on the Matter of Jurisdiction in the South China Sea Arbitration Initiated by the Philippines. 

The Paper reiterates that the Chinese Government will neither accept nor participate in the arbitration. It explains the legal basis for its position that the Arbitration Tribunal does not have jurisdiction over this case.

On January 22, 2013, the Philippines unilaterally initiated compulsory arbitration proceedings with respect to the relevant issues between China and the Philippines in the South China Sea. The Philippines has since obstinately pushed for the arbitration proceedings despite China’s objections.

The Paper states the essence of the arbitration is the territorial sovereignty over several maritime features in the South China Sea. It is beyond the scope of the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea and the jurisdiction of the Arbitration Tribunal.

The Paper states China and the Philippines have agreed, through bilateral instruments and the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea, to settle their relevant disputes through negotiation. It states that by unilaterally initiating the present arbitration, the Philippines has violated its obligation under international law.

The Paper states that the subject-matter of the arbitration constitutes an integral part of maritime delimitation between the two countries. It therefore falls within the scope of the declaration filed by China in 2006. This declaration excludes, among other things, disputes concerning maritime delimitation from compulsory arbitration and other compulsory dispute settlement procedures.

It also emphasizes that the Arbitral Tribunal manifestly has no jurisdiction over the present arbitration. And by virtue of the freedom of every State to choose the means of disputes settlement, China’s rejection of, and non-participation in, the present arbitration stand on solid ground in international law.

The Paper also says that the issues of the South China Sea involves a number of States. And its final resolution demands patience and political wisdom from all parties concerned.

The Paper concludes that the unilateral initiation of the arbitration will not change the history and fact of China’s sovereignty over the South China Sea Islands and the adjacent waters, nor will it shake China’s resolve and determination to safeguard its sovereignty and relevant maritime rights and interests. It adds that it will not affect China’s policy and position of resolving the disputes in the South China Sea by direct negotiation and working together with other States in the region to maintain peace and stability.

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