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Intl arbitration on S. China Sea 'will not be accepted'

By Pu Zhendong (China Daily) Updated: 2014-03-31 07:31

China urged the Philippines on Sunday to stick to the countries' consensus and the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea and return to the correct path of bilateral talks in resolving disputes.

China will not accept international arbitration filed by the Philippines on the South China Sea, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei said in a statement.

He said that China holds a clear and consistent stance that it has indisputable sovereignty over the Nansha Islands and its adjacent waters.

China has always adhered to direct bilateral negotiations with countries to solve disputes over islands' sovereignty and maritime demarcation, Hong said.

He added that the position is in line with the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea signed by China and ASEAN nations as well as the consensus reached by China and the Philippines in a series of documents.

He urged the Philippines to fully and effectively implement the consensus that has been repeatedly confirmed by both sides and the declaration, and return to the correct path of bilateral negotiations.

The direct cause of the disputes between China and the Philippines in the South China Sea is that the Philippines illegally occupied some Chinese islets, Hong said, adding that the issue is bilateral disputes on sovereignty over islands and maritime demarcation.

He said that China has made a statement in accordance with the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea in 2006, pointing out that related disputes do not apply to arbitration procedure.

China's stance is in full compliance with international law, Hong said, noting that its legitimate rights should be respected.

The Philippines filed a formal plea before a United Nations arbitration tribunal on Sunday containing alleged "evidence" against China's territorial claims in the South China Sea.

Philippine Foreign Secretary Albert del Rosario announced on Sunday afternoon that Manila had filed the plea before the UN tribunal in The Hague. The plea challenges China's maritime claims in the South China Sea, claiming they are "illegal" under the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea.

The document laying out the case of the Philippines was almost 4,000 pages long, according to The Associated Press.

Manila initiated the arbitration proceedings in January last year. Beijing rejected them immediately, saying Manila had distorted the basic facts relating to disputes between the two countries.

In March 2010, China officially proposed creating a regular consultation mechanism for Sino-Philippine maritime issues, but Manila never responded to the proposal.

Zhang Xinjun, an expert on international law at Tsinghua University's law school, said Manila's aim in filing the plea was to contain China and consolidate the gains Manila has made from previous disputes.

"The tribunal will first have to evaluate Manila's submission," Zhou said. "China has excluded itself from the arbitration process because the Sino-Philippine disputes involve islands, and the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea has so far not set any rules on what role islands can be allowed to play in terms of maritime demarcation."

Xinhua and AP contributed to this story.

puzhendong@chinadaily.com.cn

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