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CHINA : WILL IGNORE LAWSUIT DECISION IN SOUTH CHINA SEA

CHINA : WILL IGNORE LAWSUIT DECISION IN SOUTH CHINA SEA
Image Source: www.theforeignobserver.com

SINGAPORE — Yesterday, 04 June 2016. China said that it will ignore the decision of an international arbitration panel in a Philippine lawsuit against Beijing's sweeping territorial claims in the South China Sea.

"To put it simply, the arbitration case actually has gone beyond the jurisdiction" of a U.N. arbitration panel, said Rear Adm. Guan Youfei, director of the foreign affairs office of China's National Defense Ministry.

The Philippines has filed a case in the United Nations under the U.N. Convention on Law of the Sea, questioning China's territorial claim in the South China Sea. An arbitration panel is expected to rule on the case soon. The Permanent Court of Arbitration ruled last year that it has jurisdiction over the case despite China's rejection.

In an international security conference, Guan said to the reporters that "Because the territorial and sovereignty disputes have not been subjected to the arbitration, we think the arbitration is illegal,". "Therefore, we do not participate in it not accept it." he added.

Guan's statement is a reiteration of China's longstanding position that it wants to settle its disputes with various countries on a bilateral basis and that it will not accept international mediation.

China also has conflicting claims in the sea with Taiwan, Indonesia, Vietnam and Brunei, who all are looking for U.S. help, much to Beijing's chagrin. It gains significance because of the overtures made by Philippine President-elect Rodrigo Duterte, who said recently that he is open to bilateral negotiations with China. This has given Beijing an opening that it hopes to leverage in the event the panel rules in favor of the Philippines. 

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"The new Philippine leader also said that the Philippines hopes to conduct a dialogue with China," said Guan. "We hope the Philippines could get back on to the track of dialogue. The door to dialogue is always open."

It's China's economic interest to reduce tensions in the South China Sea as per the India's Defense Minister in a conference also known as the Shangri-La Dialogue.

"It is ultimately economics," Defense Minister Manohar Parrikar said. "If you have an unstable region like what we have in the Middle East, I don't think economics and prosperity will really (be) enhanced." he added.

Parrikar said that however small or powerful a country may be, "no commerce or commercial activity takes place in a highly tense (region). And I think it is in the interest of everyone, including China, to ensure that the peace remains in this region."

Though India is not a party to the South China Sea disputes. They fought a war in 1962, in which India lost land to China.

Separately, Japanese Defense Minister Gen Nakatani said it was "getting increasingly important for all nations in the region to establish the order based on the rule of the law." "powerful nations are required to act with self-restraint so as to avoid contingency." he added which indirectly refers to China.

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China claims virtually the entire South China Sea as its own, overlapping with territory claimed by other Southeast Asian governments. It has also started building airstrips on artificial islands it built on once-submerged reefs, much to the chagrin of the United States, which worries the build-up will impede freedom of navigation in the busy area.

The three-day Shangri-La Dialogue, which is being attended by defense ministers and experts from 25 countries, ends today (05 June 2016) and covers topics that also include terrorism, cybercrime and North Korea's nuclear ambitions. - Vijay Joshi and Annabelle Liang

Source: Philstar
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