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Manila's duplicity cannot cover up core issue

(China Daily)    14:16, May 30, 2016

The Philippines has never stopped playing tricks on the South China Sea issue. It is trying its best to cover up history and the facts, and to confuse the international community over the core issue, which is that the Philippines has not only seized some of China's territory, it wants more.

In its arbitration bid, the Philippines has used every means to whitewash the illegitimacy of its actions, and tried to legalize its untenable and illegal proposition through painstakingly packaging a disguised replacement of concept.

At the same time, Manila has tried its best to stigmatize all of China's legal and rational propositions and measures on the South China Sea issue, and portrayed China as an aggressive big power ignoring international law and bullying smaller countries.

The Philippine's arbitration is a provocation and its proposition is full of conflictions and fabrications.

First, the Philippines' various kinds of "evidence" seriously violate the objective truth that the Philippines is in no position to ask for the South China Sea's sovereignty from China. The Philippine's territorial sovereignty is strictly defined by the agreements between the United States and Spain in 1898 and 1900, as well as the agreement between the US and Britain in 1930.

However, since the 1950s the Philippines has coveted China's islands. For this purpose, Manila has made up various kinds of lies, such as Filipinos discovered "terra nullius islands" in the South China Sea, and has offered justifications without any binding power according to international laws, for example the islands are closer to the Philippines than to China so they belong to the Philippines.

After the 1970s, Manila started to transform its intention into action. The Philippines overtly invaded some of China's islands. In this arbitration, Manila lodged a false accusation alleging China has violated the Philippine's maritime interests. It continues to make up a multitude of lies and ridiculous points of view.

For instance, it claims that according to history, China's southern most territory is Hainan Island, and except for Filipino fishermen, no others have ever taken hold of Meiji Reef, and that Taiping Island does not qualify as an island defined by international law.

Second, Manila's appeal intentionally distorts the rules of the United Nation Convention on the Law of the Sea. The core of the China-Philippine dispute over the South China Sea is the sovereignty dispute over some reefs and islands and the issue of maritime delimitation. And the latter issue cannot be solved without settling the island sovereignty dispute.

Because the arbitration court's jurisdiction is strictly limited, Manila carefully packaged its appeal into an issue that is applicable to the convention. Otherwise, the arbitration court would not handle the sovereignty dispute and maritime delimitation. Manila even alleged it does not seek the arbitration court ruling on which side has sovereignty over the islands, or how to draw the boundary on the sea.

These tricks cannot change the nature of the issue, which is the Philippine's illegal invasion and occupation of China's reefs and islands and its infringement of China's maritime interests.

If the nature of the issue is put squarely on the board, the arbitration court has no jurisdiction, and the international community will see more clearly the historical fact that Philippines has never stopped invading and occupying China's islands and reefs since the end of World War II. The Philippine's unilateral appeal to the arbitration court is a distortion of the convention's principle and spirit.

Manila should be clearheaded that its painstaking performance only exposes its falsehoods and irrationality. Manila should have bilateral negotiations with Beijing on an equal footing and on the basis of international laws. This is the only way to peacefully solve the disputes over sovereignty and maritime interests, which is in line with the interests of all peoples in the region.

The author is a Beijing-based observer of international relations.

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

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