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Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Hua Chunying's Remarks on the Release of the Transcript of the Oral Hearing on Jurisdiction by the South China Sea Arbitral Tribunal Established at the Request of the Philippines

2015-08-24

Q: The South China Sea Arbitral Tribunal established at the request of the Philippines recently released the Transcript of the Oral Hearing on Jurisdiction. What is China's comment on that?

A: The Chinese side has consistantly expounded its position of neither accepting nor participating in the South China Sea arbitration unilaterally initiated by the Philippines. This position is solidly grounded in international law and will not change. On 7 December 2014, the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs was authorized to release the Position Paper of the Government of the People's Republic of China on the Matter of Jurisdiction in the South China Sea Arbitration Initiated by the Republic of the Philippines. This Paper pointed out that the Arbitral Tribunal established at the request of the Philippines has no jurisdiction over the case and elaborated on the legal grounds for China's non-acceptance and non-participation in the arbitration.

It should be emphasized that there has been a long-standing agreement between China and the Philippines on resolving their disputes in the South China Sea through negotiations and consultations. Under the Joint Statement between the People's Republic of China and the Republic of the Philippines concerning Consultations on the South China Sea and on Other Areas of Cooperation, issued on 10 August 1995, both sides "agreed to abide by" the principles that "[d]isputes shall be settled in a peaceful and friendly manner through consultations on the basis of equality and mutual respect"; that "a gradual and progressive process of cooperation shall be adopted with a view to eventually negotiating a settlement of the bilateral disputes"; and that "[d]isputes shall be settled by the countries directly concerned without prejudice to the freedom of navigation in the South China Sea".

Futhermore, the commitment of China and the Philippines to resolve relevant disputes through negotiations and consultations has also been reaffirmed in such a series of bilateral documents as the Joint Statement of the China-Philippines Experts Group Meeting on Confidence-Building Measures of 1999, the Joint Statement between the Government of the People's Republic of China and the Government of the Republic of the Philippines on the Framework of Bilateral Cooperation in the Twenty-First Century of 2000, the Joint Press Statement of the Third China-Philippines Experts' Group Meeting on Confidence-Building Measures of 2001,the Joint Press Statement between the Government of the People's Republic of China and the Government of the Republic of the Philippines of 2004, and the Joint Statement between the People's Republic of China and the Republic of the Philippines of 2011 etc..

On 4 November 2002, China, together with the ASEAN Member States, including the Philippines, jointly signed the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea (DOC). Paragraph 4 of the DOC explicitly states that, "The Parties concerned undertake to resolve their territorial and jurisdictional disputes by peaceful means ... through friendly consultations and negotiations by sovereign states directly concerned, in accordance with universally recognized principles of international law, including the 1982 UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS)."

Besides, China in 2006 made, in accordance with Article 298 of the UNCLOS, a declaration, which excludes disputes concerning maritime delimitation, historic bay or titles, military activity and law enforcement activities in regard to the exercise of sovereign rights or jurisdiction, from compulsory arbitration and other compulsory dispute settlement procedures.

The Philippines' unilateral submission of the relevant disputes to compulsory arbitration, in breach of the consensus repeatedly reaffirmed with China as well as its undertaking in the DOC and in disregard of the fact that the core of the disputes between China and Philippines lies in the disputes over territorial sovereignty and the overlapping of maritime rights and interests, constitutes a violation of international law, an abuse of international legal procedure, and a severe infringement upon the legitimate rights that China enjoys as a sovereign state and a State Party to the UNCLOS. The Philippines' unilateral initiation and obstinate pushing forward the arbitral proceeding, in an attempt to negate China's territorial sovereignty and maritime rights and interests in the South China Sea and to pressure China into making compromises regarding the relevant matters, is not only a pipe dream and will lead to nothing, but also will jeopardize the integrity of the UNCLOS and seriously undermine the order of international maritime law.

China urges the Philippines to respect China's right, which is endowed by international law, of choosing means of dispute settlement, and return to the right track of resolving relevant disputes in the South China Sea through negotiations and consultations.

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