Update | China defiant after international tribunal sets date to announce its ruling on nation’s claims in South China Sea
Foreign Ministry statement repeats Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague has no jurisdiction to rule in the matter and Beijing will rejects its findings
China remained defiant on Thursday over a looming ruling on territorial claims in the South China Sea, repeating that it would not accept an international tribunal’s decision set to be handed down later this month.
The Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague said on Wednesday that it would deliver its findings on July 12.
Foreign ministry spokesman Hong Lei said in a statement that the arbitration court had no jurisdiction in the matter and should not have heard the case. “With regard to territorial issues and maritime delimitation disputes, China does not accept any means of third party dispute settlement or any solution imposed on China,” the statement said.
China has refused to take part in the case which was brought by the Philippines, a rival claimant to territory in the South China Sea.
Beijing argues that any territorial disputes in the sea should be solved through direct negotiations between the nations involved.
In a thinly veiled reference to the United States, a staff commentary by state news agency Xinhua said a certain power’s support for Manila and the tribunal was “hypocritical”.
“For that nation, violations of international conventions could be ‘branded’ as acts of defence, as with its militarising of the South China Sea through greater presence of forces in the name of opposing the militarisation in the region,” the commentary said. “China is defending not only its territorial sovereignty but world peace and stability when fighting against the obstinacy displayed in the South China Sea arbitration.”
Communist Party mouthpiece People’s Daily also published a commentary on the issue.
“China does not accept any activity based on illegal arbitration and is well prepared to defend our territorial sovereignty and maritime rights in the South China Sea with firm and powerful actions at any time,” it said.
In its submission to the tribunal the Philippines disputed the legality of the “nine-dash line”, through which China claims almost all of the South China Sea.
It also sought to clarify the legal definition of some of the Chinese occupied “islands, rocks, low-tide elevations, or submerged banks” and Beijing’s rights to the surrounding waters under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea. Manila also raised environmental and fishery issues in the region.
China has stepped up diplomatic efforts to enlist support for its position as the date for the ruling nears. The decision is widely expected to go in favour of the Philippines.
Vietnam, Brunei, Malaysia and Taiwan also lay claim to parts of the sea where US$5 trillion worth of trade passes every year. A Philippine victory would undermine Chinese claims and encourage smaller nations in the region.
China’s top diplomat, State Councillor Yang Jiechi, visited Vietnam this week to bolster relations strained by the territorial disputes.
Beijing’s ambassador to Asean, Xu Bu, also said the disputes should not affect cooperation between nations in the bloc.
China has said 47 countries support its refusal to recognise the tribunal’s jurisdiction in the case.
Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte said on Monday before his inauguration that he would not discuss the case until a ruling was made.
Additional reporting by Reuters