China rejected the call of Philippines Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin, Jr. to recognize the 2016 arbitration ruling on the disputed South China Sea, in an act akin to a diplomatic slap on the face of the Philippine government.
“China’s position is consistent, clear and firm,” said the Chinese Embassy in Manila in a statement posted on Twitter on Monday but which had been quickly deleted.
“The South China Sea arbitration and so-called award are illegal and invalid,” the embassy said.
The embassy said China does not accept or participate in the arbitration, nor does it accept or recognize the so-called award.
Secretary Locsin on Sunday, July 12, issued a statement on the fourth anniversary of the arbitration ruling, calling for China to respect the arbitral award.
Mr. Locsin said the ruling had “conclusively settled the issue of historic rights and maritime entitlements in the South China Sea.”
“The Tribunal authoritatively ruled that China’s claim of historic rights to resources within the sea areas falling within the ‘nine-dash line’ had no basis in law… The award is non-negotiable,” he said.
China claims almost the entire South China Sea, including waters claimed by the Philippines, Brunei, Malaysia and Vietnam.
It has refused to acknowledge the 2016 ruling of the UN-backed Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague, which invalidated its claim and declared it had violated the Philippines’ sovereign right to fish and explore resources in the West Philippine Sea, waters within the country’s 200-nautical mile exclusive economic zone in the South China Sea.
The ruling came down shortly after President Rodrigo Duterte assumed office. Instead of seeking international help to enforce it, however, Duterte put it in the back burner and travelled to Beijing to woo the Chinese for aid and investments.
During his fifth visit to China last year as President, Duterte brought up the South China Sea ruling with his counterpart Xi Jinping but was told that Beijing would not budge from its position.
The Chinese embassy said that “China and the Philippines have already reached consensus on properly handling the so-called arbitration case, which has laid down solid ground for the turning-around of bilateral relations.”
It said that in recent years, “China-Philippines relations have maintained healthy and steady momentum, with exchanges and cooperation in various fields making continuous progress.”
“It is hoped that the Philippines could make concerted efforts with China in jointly securing the hard-won sound momentum of bilateral relations and upholding peace and stability in the South China Sea,” the embassy wrote. (Source: INQUIRER.net)