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Wang Yi: Political Manipulation Behind Arbitral Tribunal Will Be Revealed

On July 26, Foreign Minister Wang Yi attended the 6th East Asia Summit Foreign Ministers' Meeting. In response to the comments made by some foreign ministers on the South China Sea arbitration case, Wang Yi expounded on China's position.

Wang Yi said that China has not participated in the arbitration case and will not accept the so-called ruling, a position that China has made clear since day one and is supported by strong legal basis. By adopting this position, China is safeguarding the sanctity and impartiality of UNCLOS. First, the arbitration unilaterally initiated by the former Philippine government violated the principle of having the consent of concerned parties as the basis of arbitration and failed to meet the prerequisite of conducting full exchange of views beforehand, thus lacking the legal conditions to be initiated. What the former Philippine government had done also abandoned bilateral agreements between China and the Philippines and violated Article 4 of the DOC as well as the principle of estoppel prescribed in international law. Second, the subject matters of the arbitration, however packaged, in fact directly concern territorial sovereignty and maritime delimitation. They are beyond the scope of UNCLOS and the jurisdiction of the temporary tribunal. It is a typical act of overstepping the power and ultra vires as well as the abuse of dispute arbitration mechanism. A prominent legal expert from Europe once publicly said that undoubtedly, this arbitration case touches upon territorial sovereignty which is not governed by UNCLOS. The tribunal's practice of separating territorial sovereignty dispute with the status of islands and reefs is unseen in international law. It is like putting the cart before the horse. Third, the ruling of the temporary tribunal is full of obvious mistakes. It blatantly uses its self-invented rules to negate and deprive the lawful and legitimate territorial sovereignty and maritime rights and interests of parties concerned. In particular, it says that Taiping Dao, the largest island in the Nansha Islands with 500,000 square meters, is a rock with no maritime rights. If such a judgement can stand, the sea map of the world will need to be redrawn.

Wang Yi stressed that this ruling runs counter to the spirit of international rule of law as well as the principle and spirit of UNCLOS. This arbitration is imbued with question marks and fallacies in terms of procedure, legal application, fact finding and evidence gathering. It is illegal in three aspects: the initiation of the arbitration is illegal; the set-up of the tribunal is illegal; the result of the arbitration is illegal. Therefore, China's stance is fully legitimate which serves the purpose of upholding international equity and justice and regional peace and stability.

Wang Yi said that more and more countries have come to see the nature and danger of the arbitration case. They understand and acknowledge China's stance to resolve disputes through direct negotiation and consultation, and call for respecting the right of sovereign states to independently choose dispute settlement means, including respecting the declaration on optional exceptions made under Article 298 of UNCLOS. There are also more and more legal experts around the world questioning the legality of the arbitration case and the fairness of the ruling. As time goes by, the illegal nature of this so-called South China Sea arbitration case and the political manipulation hidden behind this temporary arbitral tribunal will be further revealed.

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