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People’s Daily slams South China Sea arbitration tribunal for being political tool

(People's Daily Online)    08:27, July 14, 2016

The award on the South China Sea dispute has proven that the arbitration tribunal has degenerated into a political tool of external powers, the People’s Daily said on Tuesday.

“The arbitration is a political provocation and its true purpose is to violate China’s territorial sovereignty, maritime rights and interests over the islands features in the South China Sea,” noted the editorial published under the pen name Zhong Sheng, a homonym in Chinese for “voice of China” that is often used to express the paper's views on foreign policy.

The following is an abridged translation of the editorial:

The arbitration tribunal announced its award on the South China Sea dispute on Tuesday. It is ridiculous that this award supports every single illegal claim unilaterally made by the Philippines.

Such a biased award has exposed to the world that, from the very beginning, the arbitration lacked any legal basis or fairness and is nothing more than a political farce.

In truth, the arbitration is a political provocation and its true purpose is to violate China’s territorial sovereignty, maritime rights, and interests over the islands features in the South China Sea.

Whenever the law is used as a tool of political manipulation, it loses impartiality. The tribunal’s actions during the arbitration prove that the court has degenerated into agent of external powers who only seek their own benefit.

Through this case, the Philippines has sought to overturn the dashed-line established by China in the South China Sea and to undermine China’s maritime rights and interests by arguing that China’s historic rights in the sea are in violation of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS).

Throughout the arbitration process, the tribunal has run counter to the basic principles of UNCLOS and neglected international customary laws that carry the same legal force.

Founded on international customary law, the historic rights of China in the South China Sea came long before UNCLOS.

Moreover, UNCLOS never established unified provisions concerning historic rights nor did it state that it would replace historic rights.

Instead, UNCLOS has respected historic rights by classifying such rights under customary international law.

Another appeal of the Aquino administration is concerning the legal status of several reefs and islands in the South China Sea.

Although the tribunal is fully aware of the fact that it has no jurisdiction over disputes concerning territory and sovereignty, it turned a blind eye to the Philippines' intention to undermine China's sovereignty by putting forward the so-called islands-legal-status appeal.

The Department of Foreign Affairs of the Philippines published a Q&A document at the start of the arbitration, claiming that the case aimed to “protect its territory and waters.”

Such a statement shows that the case is related to territory and sovereignty from the very beginning.

To achieve its illegal motives, the tribunal deliberately packaged the case as a non-sovereignty issue by fragmentizing the Nansha Islands. Such a move, which overstepped the tribunal’s authority and abused China’s rights, went far beyond UNCLOS’ jurisdiction.

Moreover, some of the arbitrators of the case, notably Alfred Soons, completely steered away from their previous stances concerning the relation between the legal status of the islands and maritime delimitation. Such quick betrayal, almost incomprehensible from academic perspective, adds to the lingering doubts over the tribunal’s legal consciousness and impartiality.

In addition, the tribunal totally disregarded the procedures that should be upheld in judicial practice. The Chinese Society of International Law and many other academic institutions have already challenged and criticized these practices in previous reports.

For example, in its reference to relevant international arbitration cases, the tribunal deliberately avoided the general practices used in most cases, only adopting a few highly-controversial and examples or opinions which support its pre-determined conclusions.

When it came to the presentation of facts, the court turned a blind eye to or disparaged factual information that favored China.

The fundamental value of international justice and arbitration lies in its fairness and objectivity. Looking back at the behavior of the arbitration tribunal, it has derailed from the right track from the very start.

This farce has finally come to a close. China’s sovereignty and maritime rights and interests in the South China Sea will not be affected by this so-called arbitration under any circumstances. Nor will China accept any actions based on such a verdict award. 

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

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