World / South China Sea

Philippines' call for South China Sea arbitration 'catastrophic mistake: Serbian MP

(Xinhua) Updated: 2016-06-30 13:13

BELGRADE - Manila's unilateral initiation of arbitration on the South China Sea disputes with China is a "catastrophic mistake," Vladimir Djukanovic, member of the Serbian National Assembly said here on Wednesday.

Djukanovic, also a member of the presidency of the ruling Serbian Progressive Party, told Xinhua in an interview that the move aims to prolong the process of finding a solution to this dispute and help the United States maintain its influence on trade in the South China Sea.

The tribunal's handling of the arbitration case will issue an award on July 12, according to a press release published Wednesday by its registry, the Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) in The Hague.

"Just imagine what a problem would be created if such a court (PCA) brought a verdict under the influence of the U.S.," said Djukanovic.

According to Djukanovic, the United States has sought to strengthen domination and increase presence in waters of the South China Sea.

Djukanovic said that although any country can ask for arbitration, this sends an unfavorable message to good neighborhood relations.

"I think that this conflict by itself is artificial, because the territories involved in the case belong to China. If there was a problem, it would be much better if presidents of China and the Philippines met at the negotiation table," he said.

Djukanovic said trade by way of the South China Sea is "very valuable" and "the presence of American ships, sometimes illegal, influences the economy."

"They will attempt to suppress Chinese interest everywhere they can - whether here in the Balkans or the South China Sea. They will intensively do all in their power to weaken the influence of both Russia and China because they watch for their own interests," he said.

By reducing China's influence in the South China Sea, the United States actually wishes to sabotage its economy, warned Djukanovic. "This must not be allowed," he said.

Djukanovic stressed that all open issues should be resolved bilaterally and without involvement of a third party, adding that the Philippines is unwise to "act on behalf of the United States in this case."

"Yugoslavia witnessed intervention from a third party, and look how it all ended up in bloody wars! It's always best for neighbors to sit down and talk, and this is the way to solve their open issues," he said.

Djukanovic said the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties (DOC) in the South China Sea signed by China and the Philippines, along with other members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations in 2002 has offered a good way to end the disputes.

However, the Philippines' call for arbitration is an undisguised disregard for good neighborhood relations, he said. This is a "catastrophic mistake" and Manila will "gain nothing in the end," he added.

On 22 January 2013, the Philippines unilaterally initiated the arbitration in the PCA on the relevant disputes with China. The Chinese government immediately declared that it would neither accept nor participate in the arbitration initiated by the Philippines, a position that has since been repeatedly reiterated.

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