China / Government

China's position paper on South China Sea

(Xinhua) Updated: 2014-12-07 10:20

BEIJING - The Chinese foreign ministry was authorized to release on Sunday a position paper of the government on the matter of jurisdiction in the South China Sea arbitration initiated by the Republic of the Philippines. The following is a translated version of the full text of the position paper:

Position Paper of the Government of the People' s Republic of China on the Matter of Jurisdiction in the South China Sea Arbitration Initiated by the Republic of the Philippines

7 December 2014

I. Introduction

1. On 22 January 2013, the Department of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of the Philippines presented a note verbale to the Embassy of the People' s Republic of China in the Philippines, stating that the Philippines submitted a Notification and Statement of Claim in order to initiate compulsory arbitration proceedings under Article 287 and Annex VII of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea ( "Convention" ) with respect to the dispute with China over "maritime jurisdiction" in the South China Sea. On 19 February 2013, the Chinese Government rejected and returned the Philippines' note verbale together with the attached Notification and Statement of Claim. The Chinese Government has subsequently reiterated that it will neither accept nor participate in the arbitration thus initiated by the Philippines.

2. This Position Paper is intended to demonstrate that the arbitral tribunal established at the request of the Philippines for the present arbitration ( "Arbitral Tribunal" ) does not have jurisdiction over this case. It does not express any position on the substantive issues related to the subject-matter of the arbitration initiated by the Philippines. No acceptance by China is signified in this Position Paper of the views or claims advanced by the Philippines, whether or not they are referred to herein. Nor shall this Position Paper be regarded as China' s acceptance of or participation in this arbitration.

3. This Position Paper will elaborate on the following positions:

The essence of the subject-matter of the arbitration is the territorial sovereignty over several maritime features in the South China Sea, which is beyond the scope of the Convention and does not concern the interpretation or application of the Convention;

China and the Philippines have agreed, through bilateral instruments and the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea, to settle their relevant disputes through negotiations. By unilaterally initiating the present arbitration, the Philippines has breached its obligation under international law;

Even assuming, arguendo, that the subject-matter of the arbitration were concerned with the interpretation or application of the Convention, that subject-matter would constitute an integral part of maritime delimitation between the two countries, thus falling within the scope of the declaration filed by China in 2006 in accordance with the Convention, which excludes, inter alia, disputes concerning maritime delimitation from compulsory arbitration and other compulsory dispute settlement procedures;

Consequently, the Arbitral Tribunal manifestly has no jurisdiction over the present arbitration. Based on the foregoing positions and by virtue of the freedom of every State to choose the means of dispute settlement, China' s rejection of and non-participation in the present arbitration stand on solid ground in international law.

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