FMPRC Statement on the Jurisdiction Issues in the South China Sea case
Statement of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the People’s Republic of China on the Award on Jurisdiction and Admissibility of the South China Sea Arbitration by the Arbitral Tribunal Established at the Request of the Republic of the Philippines
The award rendered on 29 October 2015 by the Arbitral Tribunal established at the request of the Republic of the Philippines (hereinafter referred to as the “Arbitral Tribunal”) on jurisdiction and admissibility of the South China Sea arbitration is null and void, and has no binding effect on China.
I. China has indisputable sovereignty over the South China Sea Islands and the adjacent waters. China’s sovereignty and relevant rights in the South China Sea, formed in the long historical course, are upheld by successive Chinese governments, reaffirmed by China’s domestic laws on many occasions, and protected under international law including the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS). With regard to the issues of territorial sovereignty and maritime rights and interests, China will not accept any solution imposed on it or any unilateral resort to a third-party dispute settlement.
II. The Philippines’ unilateral initiation and obstinate pushing forward of the South China Sea arbitration by abusing the compulsory procedures for dispute settlement under the UNCLOS is a political provocation under the cloak of law. It is in essence not an effort to settle disputes but an attempt to negate China’s territorial sovereignty and maritime rights and interests in the South China Sea. In 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, which was released by the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs on 7 December 2014 upon authorization, the Chinese government pointed out that the Arbitral Tribunal manifestly has no jurisdiction over the arbitration initiated by the Philippines, and elaborated on the legal grounds for China’s non-acceptance of and non-participation in the arbitration. This position is clear and explicit, and will not change.
III. As a sovereign state and a State Party to the UNCLOS, China is entitled to choose the means and procedures of dispute settlement of its own will. China has all along been committed to resolving disputes with its neighbors over territory and maritime jurisdiction through negotiations and consultations. Since the 1990s, China and the Philippines have repeatedly reaffirmed in bilateral documents that they shall resolve relevant disputes through negotiations and consultations. TheDeclaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea (DOC) explicitly states that the sovereign states directly concerned undertake to resolve their territorial and jurisdictional disputes by peaceful means through friendly consultations and negotiations. All these documents demonstrate that China and the Philippines have chosen, long time ago, to settle their disputes in the South China Sea through negotiations and consultations. The breach of this consensus by the Philippines damages the basis of mutual trust between states.
IV. Disregarding that the essence of this arbitration case is territorial sovereignty and maritime delimitation and related matters, maliciously evading the declaration on optional exceptions made by China in 2006 under Article 298 of the UNCLOS, and negating the consensus between China and the Philippines on resolving relevant disputes through negotiations and consultations, the Philippines and the Arbitral Tribunal have abused relevant procedures and obstinately forced ahead with the arbitration, and as a result, have severely violated the legitimate rights that China enjoys as a State Party to the UNCLOS, completely deviated from the purposes and objectives of the UNCLOS, and eroded the integrity and authority of the UNCLOS. As a State Party to the UNCLOS, China firmly opposes the acts of abusing the compulsory procedures for dispute settlement under the UNCLOS, and calls upon all parties concerned to work together to safeguard the integrity and authority of the UNCLOS.
V. The Philippines’ attempt to negate China’s territorial sovereignty and maritime rights and interests in the South China Sea through arbitral proceeding will lead to nothing. China urges the Philippines to honor its own commitments, respect China’s rights under international law, change its course and return to the right track of resolving relevant disputes in the South China Sea through negotiations and consultations.