Lawful for China not to accept South China Sea arbitration: ambassador

2016-07-27 09:31Xinhua Editor: Gu Liping

It is both lawful and reasonable for China not to accept the South China Sea arbitration as the award has no legal effect, Chinese Ambassador to Norway Wang Min wrote in articles published on Tuesday.

In an article published on the website of Norway's public broadcaster NRK, Wang said that Nanhai Zhudao (the South China Sea Islands) are China's inherent territory and China's sovereignty over Nanhai Zhudao is solidly grounded in history and law.

"The activities of the Chinese people in the South China Sea date back to over 2,000 years ago. China is the first to have discovered, named, explored and exploited Nanhai Zhudao and relevant waters, and the first to have exercised sovereignty and jurisdiction over them continuously and effectively," he said.

Wang noted that there had been no territorial or maritime delimitation disputes between China and the Philippines until the 1970s, when the Philippines started to invade and illegally occupy some islands and reefs of China's Nansha Qundao (the Nansha Islands, part of Nanhai Zhudao), and fabricated various excuses to prove the validity of such actions.

While resolutely opposing the Philippines' invasion and illegal occupation of China's islands and reefs, China has exercised great restraint, stayed committed to peacefully settling the disputes with the Philippines in the South China Sea, and made tireless efforts to this end, the ambassador said.

In an article published on Norway's leading daily newspaper Aftenposten, Wang said for decades some countries continued to expand and deploy artillery, tanks and other heavy weapons on China's islands and reefs illegally occupied by them in the South China Sea. In recent years, China has built necessary defenses on its islands and reefs, which is for self-protection and in response to these military threats.

"It is obvious to see which country is militarizing the South China Sea by sending carrier strike groups at the doorstep of China as a show of force. China is not responsible for the deteriorating situation in the region," he said.

The Chinese ambassador noted that an editorial of Aftenposten on July 19 made comments on the South China Sea arbitration and was "featured with misreading on the South China Sea issue and prejudice against China."

China has consistently advocated that all countries, big or small, should be equal, and China never bullied the weak, Wang said, adding that at the same time, China is firmly opposed to any country's infringement of China's core interests with the excuse of being a small country.

However, the former government of the Philippines, plotted and manipulated by certain forces outside the region, unilaterally stirred up trouble, Wang said.

"It is neither just nor right for the editorial of Aftenposten to make its judgment on the South China Sea issue based on the size or strength of a country rather than on merits of the case," he said.

In both articles, the Chinese ambassador laid out effective arguments to prove that China's non-acceptance to the South China Sea arbitration is lawful and reasonable.

"First, pacta sunt servanda (Latin for 'agreements must be kept'). This is the fundamental norm of international law. By unilaterally initiating arbitration, the Philippines has violated its agreement with China to settle the disputes through bilateral negotiation," Wang said.

"Second, pursuant to Article 298 of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), China made an optional exception declaration in 2006, excluding from the compulsory dispute settlement procedures of UNCLOS disputes, including maritime delimitation and sovereignty disputes. The former government of the Philippines forcefully and unilaterally initiated the arbitration, which constitutes an abuse of the UNCLOS dispute settlement procedures," he said.

"Third, one judge in charge of this case was even appointed by the former government of the Philippines. The so-called Arbitral Tribunal is not a United Nations Court at all. The United Nations has made it very clear about this. Therefore, the Arbitral Tribunal has no legitimacy at all, and has no jurisdiction over the case. In this regard, the award has no judiciary effect," Wang said.

He said that the award given by the arbitral tribunal "challenges the norms of international law, including respect for sovereignty and territorial integrity and undermines the sanctity and integrity of the system of international law of the sea."

"More and more countries as well as people with vision have expressed concerns and doubt about the case, especially legal experts worldwide. Over 60 countries have publicly expressed their understanding and support for China's position," Wang said. "These are voices of justice that the international community should well listen to."

Up to now, China has signed border treaties with 12 out of the 14 land neighbors, the ambassador noted, adding that China and Vietnam completed the delimitation of maritime boundary in the Beibu Gulf.

"China has the ability and will continue to resolve territorial disputes and maritime delimitation through peaceful negotiation and make the South China Sea a sea of peace, cooperation and prosperity," Wang said.



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