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ASEAN nations should not be hijacked over South China Sea issue: Chinese envoy

Asia Pacific Daily | Fri,2016-07-08

A Chinese diplomat on Friday urged members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN)  to guard against certain countries which he said were attempting to hijack the regional bloc over the South China Sea issue.

The maritime disputes in the South China Sea only involve certain ASEAN nations, so it is not an issue between China and ASEAN as a whole, Chinese Ambassador to ASEAN Xu Bu told Asia Pacific Daily in an interview.

Chinese Ambassador to ASEAN Xu Bu. Photo: APD

Chinese Ambassador to ASEAN Xu Bu. Photo: APD

Four out of the 10 ASEAN members are claimants in the sea disputes, and only one or two nations have big differences with China over the issue, he said.

The ambassador said some countries in and outside the region were instigating certain ASEAN members to raise the issue as disputes between China and ASEAN with an ulterior motive.

"The countries are attempting to hijack ASEAN by certain ASEAN members' stance and confront China as a whole," Xu said.

An arbitral tribunal at the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague said it would hand down the ruling on July 12 after the Philippines unilaterally initiated an arbitration case against China in 2013 over disputes in the South China Sea.

China has reiterated that the tribunal has no jurisdiction over the case and the relevant subject-matter, and it should not have heard the case or rendered any "award."

Manila's unilaterally-initiated arbitration breached a consensus between the Philippines and China that they agreed to solve their disputes through bilateral talks, said Ambassador Xu.

The move also violated the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea (DOC) signed in 2002 between China and ASEAN countries including the Philippines, he said.

Therefore, "it is a political farce under a legal cover," said the ambassador.

The unilateral initiation of arbitration is aimed at negating China's territorial sovereignty and maritime interests in the South China Sea, and seeking to justify the Philippines's occupation of Chinese islands and rocks in the sea, according to the ambassador.

The core of the compulsory arbitration is the territorial sovereignty of some disputed islands and rocks in the South China Sea.

China has pointed out that territorial issues are not subject to the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), and in 2006 it declared - in line with UNCLOS - to exclude disputes concerning maritime delimitation from mandatory dispute-settlement procedures, as did some 30 other countries.

Therefore the tribunal has no jurisdiction over the case, and "China will not accept or implement the arbitral award whatever the result is," he reiterated.

The Chinese side would not negotiate with any country over the South China Sea issue based on the ruling, nor would it accept any claims by any country, institution or individual based on the ruling, he added.

The ambassador believed that the leaders and people of ASEAN members have wisdom to overcome the differences given the solid foundation of the China- ASEAN ties.

At a special meeting of China-ASEAN foreign ministers in June, the ministers viewed the China-ASEAN relationship as the most broad, fruitful and closest among the ties between ASEAN and its dialogue partners, said Ambassador Xu.

"It has greatly promoted the socio-economic development of China and ASEAN nations, which has also contributed to the regional peace, stability and prosperity," he said.  


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