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English>>Foreign Affairs

Chinese Diplomat Says South China Sea Tribunal Has No Jurisdiction

(CRI Online)    08:05, May 13, 2016

A senior Chinese diplomat has underlined that the Arbitral Tribunal on the South China Sea has no jurisdiction, and that any ruling would be invalid under international law.

The Philippines initiated the South China Sea arbitration against China at the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague in early 2013. A decision is expected sometime in May or June.

Xu Hong, the Chinese Foreign Ministry's director general of treaties and law was speaking at a news conference called to explain China's position on the deliberations in The Hague.

Xu said any application for arbitration had to meet at least four preconditions, and noted that the Philippines had not met any of them.

If the subject matter is beyond the scope of the UNCLOS, he said, then the dispute shall not be settled by compulsory arbitration

Xu said that on January 23, 2013, one day after the arbitration process was began, the Philippines issued a document that clearly stated that the arbitration was about sovereignty.

The official further pointed out that any signatory to the UNCLOS may declare that it will not accept compulsory arbitration with respect to disputes concerning, among other things, maritime delimitation.

China has declared that compulsory dispute settlement procedures do not apply to maritime delimitation, therefore, Xu says, the Philippines was wrong to have gone to arbitration.

Secondly, Xu said, in the case that disputing parties have agreed on other means of settlement, compulsory arbitration is not an option.

China and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, or ASEAN, signed the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea, or DOC, in 2002.

Article four of the DOC says all sides, including the Philippines, agreed to settle territorial disputes through negotiation and consultation by the countries directly concerned.

Parties involved in disputes are also obliged to discuss the means of settlement first, which, Xu says, the Philippines did not do.

Xu further notes that all these preconditions bar UNCLOS contracting states from initiating arbitration.

Xu says the tribunal in this case had failed to comply with the preconditions, and therefore China will neither accept nor recognize the decision made by the tribunal.

He says China shall never change its position over the dispute in the South China Sea, and reiterates that China enjoys sovereignty over the South China Sea islands and surrounding waters.

He finally notes that China stands ready to solve disputes through direct negotiations with countries in the region with the aim of jointly maintaining peace and stability.

(For the latest China news, Please follow People's Daily on Twitter and Facebook)(Editor:Huang Jin,Bianji)

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