China to PH: Return to right track in settling dispute

Posted at 03/31/14 1:12 PM

MANILA - China insisted it will not recognize the Philippines’ case before an arbitral tribunal “no matter how [its] memorial is packaged.”

In a press conference in Beijing, Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Hong Lei said: “China's position on issues concerning the South China Sea (West Philippine Sea) is clear-cut and consistent. China has indisputable sovereignty over the Spratly Islands and their adjacent waters.”

Hong insisted the direct cause of the dispute is the Philippines' “illegal occupation of some of China's islands and reefs in the South China Sea.”

He said disputes such as these have already been excluded from arbitration proceedings based on a declaration in 2006 that was anchored on the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS).

He said bilateral talks are also provided in the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea (DOC) jointly signed by China and ASEAN countries.

“In this context, China's rejection of the Philippines' submission for arbitration is solidly based on international law, and China's lawful rights as a party to UNCLOS should be truly respected,” he said.
He said the Philippines should return to the right track of settling the dispute, which is through bilateral diplomacy.

“China urges the Philippines to comprehensively and effectively implement the consensus repeatedly reaffirmed between the two sides and the DOC, and return to the right track of settling the disputes through bilateral negotiations,” Hong said.

Notwithstanding the recent actions of China, the Philippines proceeded to file its 4,000-page Memorial before an arbitral tribunal insisting its claim over the West Philippine Sea.

In a press conference Sunday, Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario said: “With firm conviction, the ultimate purpose of the memorial is our national interest. It’s about defining what is legitimately ours. It’s about securing our children’s future. It’s about guaranteeing the freedom of navigation. It’s about preserving our regional peace, security, and stability…”

Once resolved, the decision is one that would provide a “just, durable solution grounded on international law.”