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Ambassador Pan: Arbitration verdict 'doomed to be invalid'
(From Chinese Embassy in Jordan)
2016/07/12

On11 July, 2016, theJordan Times published an article by Ambassador Pan Weifang: Arbitration verdict 'doomed to be invalid'   The full text is as follows:

  

   China's position on the South China Sea issue is consistent and clear cut, we are committed to resolve the disputes in a peaceful manner in accordance with international law and on the basis of respecting historical facts.

   We believe negotiation and consultation can best represent the principle of equality among countries and is the most effective way to settle disputes.

  Since its founding, the People's Republic of China has signed border treaties with 12 land neighbors on delineation and demarcation of borderlines.

  We issued several bilateral documents and joint statements with the Philippines through the years after 2000 to reaffirm the commitment to resolving disputes friendly, signed DOC with ASEAN countries and begun consultations to formulate a code of conduct.

  All facts have proved that China is a responsible major country, a firm defender of and major contributor to peace and stability in the South China Sea.

  China is firmly committed to upholding freedom and safety of navigation and overflight in the South China Sea lanes.

  We supports the 'dual track' approach initiated by ASEAN countries, will continue candid exchange of views on South China Sea issue, manage differences and conduct cooperation, maintain the region peaceful and prosper.

  Starting over three years ago, a pending arbitration case which was unilaterally brought by Benigno Aquino III's government of the Philippines to the Permanent Court of Arbitration in Hague, was continuously worsening the relationship between China and the Philippines, and substantially helped escalating tensions in the South China Sea.

  The twists and turns caused by this arbitration case is close to an end ingloriously, any verdict by the Arbitral Tribunal on the South China Sea will be of no legal validity.

  First, the arbitration is a political farce and provocation under the pretext of law. Its filing against China is clearly in violation of its agreement with China enshrined in bilateral documents and the DOC on resolving disputes through negotiations and consultations.

  The Philippines should have engaged in close consultations with China to settle their South China Sea disputes and manage the situation on the sea in line with its agreement with China to seek solution through negotiations and consultations.

  However, Aquino III's government tried to serve its purpose by not telling the truth, refused to handle the disputes as agreed, because the intension hiding behind is to use the arbitration to deny China's territorial sovereignty and maritime rights and interests in the South China Sea, discredit China, and seek support for its own invasion and illegal occupation of some islands and reefs of China's Nansha Island.

  Second, the Philippines unilaterally initiated the arbitration is against international law, the arbitration has violated the provisions of United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), abused its dispute settlement procedures and infringed upon China's right under UNCLOS to independently choosing dispute settlement mechanisms and procedures.

  Given the fact that China and the Philippines have made a clear choice on the means and procedures of settling their disputes, third-party settlement procedures provided for in UNCLOS shall not apply.

  China and the Philippines have already reached agreement in bilateral documents on resolving relevant disputes in the South China Sea through bilateral negotiation.

  DOC, signed by China and ASEAN Member States, including the Philippines, in 2002, also clearly stipulates that "the parties concerned undertake to resolve their territorial and jurisdictional disputes by peaceful means, through friendly consultations and negotiations by sovereign states directly concerned."

  On that basis, China and the Philippines have chosen negotiation as the means to resolve relevant disputes and excluded third-party settlement, including arbitration.

  The Philippines still issued a statement jointly with China in 2011 undertaking to resolve disputes through negotiations and consultations.

  The Philippines has submitted its request of arbitration on itself, while it has never engaged in consultations with China even on the very existence of "disputes concerning the interpretation or application of the Convention" and other matters.

  Third, the Arbitral Tribunal, in disregard of the fact that China and the Philippines have chosen to settle relevant disputes through negotiations and consultations and declaration on optional exceptions China has made in pursuance with UNCLOS, has violated UNCLOS and expanded and abused its power at will by hearing the case and exercising jurisdiction. Given The Philippines requests are, in essence, about territorial sovereignty and maritime delimitation.

  Territorial issues are subject to general international law, not UNCLOS.

  The declaration on optional exceptions China made in 2006 in accordance with Article 298 of UNCLOS excludes disputes concerning maritime delimitation, historic bays or titles from the dispute settlement procedures provided for in UNCLOS.

  Thus, the arbitration is illegal and null and void.

  In fact, the acts of the Arbitral Tribunal affected the stability of regional and international maritime order, and contradicted its purpose of peaceful settlement of international disputes.

  Based on what is stated above, the compulsory settlement procedure provided for in UNCLOS dose not apply to the disputes between China and the Philippines.

  The Arbitral Tribunal set up thereof has no jurisdiction. It forceful handling of the case and exercise of jurisdiction is willful expansion and abuse of power in nature.

  China dose not accept or recognize such arbitration which has been illegal from the very beginning.

  The so-called "award" of the arbitration is thus not binding. China will not accept any country's attempt to use such an "award" as a basis for consultations with it on the South China Sea issue, nor will it accept any positions or activities proposed and conducted by any country based on such an "award".

  By not accepting or participating in the arbitration unilateral initiated by the Philippines, China is upholding its rights under international law.

  The root cause of the South China Sea issue is the invasion and illegal occupation by certain countries of some islands and reefs of China's Nansha Islands.

  The South China Sea Islands including the Nansha Islands have been China's territory since ancient times.

  The Chinese people were the first to discover, name and develop these islands. It was the Chinese government that first exercised sovereignty and jurisdiction over them and relevant waters, a practice that has been continued in a peaceful and effective manner without interruption.

  When the World War II ended, in accordance with the Cairo Declaration and the Potsdam Proclamation, China recovered the Nansha Islands and asserted its sovereignty and reinforced jurisdiction through such measures as compiling their official names, publishing maps, setting up administrative units and stationing troops.

  Before the 1970s, it was widely recognized by the international community that the South China Sea Islands belong to China and not a single country raised objections to it.

  In 1968, a survey conducted by an affiliate of the United Nations indicated rich oil and gas reserves in the South China Sea.

  Some countries such as the Philippines began to occupy China's Nansha islands and reefs.

  China is a victim on the South China Sea issue. Nonetheless, in order to uphold regional peace and stability, the Chinese side has all along exercised great restraint, handled the South China Sea issue in a responsible and constructive manner and committed itself to resolving the relevant disputes through negotiations and consultations.

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