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Spotlight: Ill-founded award on South China Sea arbitration draws worldwide criticism

(Xinhua)    07:20, July 13, 2016

THE HAGUE, July 12 -- An arbitral tribunal on the South China Sea rendered ruling on Tuesday, resulting in a deluge of criticism from China and other countries.

The 479-page award issued by a five-member tribunal is sweepingly in favor of the claims filed by the administration of former Philippine President Benigno S. Aquino III, which unilaterally lodged the arbitration.

Chinese President Xi Jinping, in a meeting with visiting European leaders on Tuesday, said that China will not accept the award, and that China's territorial sovereignty and maritime interests in the South China Sea will under no circumstances be affected by it.

Shortly after the publication of the award, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said in a statement that the arbitration is a political farce under the pretext of law and the ruling has no legal force at all.

The Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs immediately issued a statement saying it "solemnly declares that the award is null and void and has no binding force. China neither accepts nor recognizes it."

The verdict against China also drew condemnation from other countries.

A spokesman for the Pakistan's Foreign Ministry said on Tuesday that maritime disputes in the South China Sea should be addressed in accordance with bilateral agreements and the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea (DOC), adding that Pakistan opposes any imposition of unilateral will on others.

The DOC calls for states directly involved in territorial and maritime disputes to resolve their differences through peaceful negotiations and was signed by China and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).

The ministry added that it further respects a declaration China made in 2006 under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea not to involve a third party to resolve disputes over maritime delimitation.

The Thai Foreign Ministry in a statement also mentioned the DOC, adding that disputes in the South China Sea should be addressed on the basis of mutual trust to reflect the nature of the long standing ASEAN-China relations.

Scholars, too, have voiced their suspicion over the arbitration.

Saeed al-Lawindi, a political researcher and expert of international relations at Cairo-based Al-Ahram Center for Political and Strategic Studies, believed that the ruling is completely biased and could result in serious conflict in the region. The ruling may lead to instability instigated by the United States and other Western states, he said.

Tom Zwart, professor of law at Utrecht University in the Netherlands, told Xinhua that the award will not resolve any issues in the region because the tribunal lacked jurisdiction in its ruling.

"From the outset, critics like me said that it would be very difficult to avoid sovereignty issues (when handling the Philippines' claims)," said the professor.

"Another reason for the tribunal not to accept jurisdiction is that the S. China Sea issue is a too complicated a matter for them to decide. There are so many issues involved and some of them are outside of that jurisdiction." 

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

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