Pressuring China over South China Sea arbitration reflects political arrogance, legal prejudice: FM

PHNOM PENH, April 22 (Xinhua) -- Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said here on Friday that the Philippines' attempt to pressure China over an arbitration of maritime disputes is "either political arrogance or legal prejudice."

"There is ample legal basis for China not to participate in or accept the unilaterally-initiated process," he told a joint press conference with his Cambodian counterpart Prak Sokhonn.

The UN Charter and international law advocate peaceful settlement of disputes through dialogue and negotiation, and the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) also respects the dispute settlement procedure chosen by the parties themselves.

China has insisted that the South China Sea disputes should be resolved peacefully through negotiations between the parties directly concerned, Wang said.

"So China is exercising its legitimate right to reject a compulsory arbitration," he added.

The Chinese top diplomat noted that China made a declaration that excludes a compulsory arbitration in 2006 under the Article 298 of the UNCLOS.

Manila unilaterally initiated an arbitration case against China over the maritime disputes at an international tribunal in The Hague in early 2013 under the UNCLOS.

"The Philippines' claims relating to China's territory sovereignty and maritime rights should evidently be excluded from a compulsory arbitration," Wang said.

Under the Article 4 of the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea (DOC), signed by China and ASEAN countries, the disputes should be resolved through consultations and negotiations by parties directly concerned.

China's rejection of a compulsory arbitration is actually a fulfillment of its responsibilities and obligations of the DOC, Wang said.

Therefore, China's position on the arbitration is in compliance with international law and the norms of international law of the sea, he said.

The Philippines' unilateral move has violated the common practice that concerned parties should reach an agreement on handling their disputes before seeking an arbitration, as well as Manila's commitment to a negotiated solution to disputes made in bilateral documents, said the Chinese foreign minister.

The Philippines has also breached the Article 4 of the DOC it has signed that territorial and jurisdictional disputes should be resolved through consultations and negotiations by parties directly concerned.

"Manila's unilateral action is actually a distortion and abuse of the international arbitration mechanism," he added.

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