China en­voy blasts Hague rul­ing

China Daily (Canada) - - ACROSS AMERICAS - By CHEN WEIHUA in Wash­ing­ton chen­wei­hua@chi­nadai­lyusa.com

Chi­nese Am­bas­sador to the United States Cui Tiankai said his coun­try will not yield to any pres­sure or make deals for its core in­ter­ests.

He made the re­marks in a speech in Wash­ing­ton on Tues­day af­ter­noon fol­low­ing the rul­ing an­nounced in the morn­ing by the ar­bi­tra­tion tri­bunal in The Hague, in a case brought by the Philip­pines against China re­gard­ing dis­putes in the South China Sea.

“We will not yield to any pres­sure, be it in the form of mil­i­tary ac­tiv­i­ties, me­dia crit­i­cism or some self-claimed le­gal bod­ies,” Cui said at the Cen­ter for Strate­gic and In­ter­na­tional Stud­ies at the end of a full-day con­fer­ence on the South China Sea.

“And we will cer­tainly not make deals with our core in­ter­est just for a few words of praise,” he added.

His speech came af­ter the Chi­nese gov­ern­ment and the Min­istry of For­eign Af­fairs re­spec­tively is­sued state­ments on China’s ter­ri­to­rial sovereignty and mar­itime rights and in­ter­ests in the South China Sea and on the award by the ar­bi­tra­tion tri­bunal.

In front of an au­di­ence of sev­eral hun­dred peo­ple, in­clud­ing many ex­perts on mar­itime law and in­ter­na­tional re­la­tions, Cui at­trib­uted China’s re­jec­tion of the ar­bi­tra­tion to the fact that it vi­o­lates the gen­eral prac­tice that ar­bi­tra­tion should be premised on a state’s con­sent.

China, like dozens of other coun­tries, made an op­tional ex­cep­tional dec­la­ra­tion in 2006 in ac­cor­dance with Ar­ti­cle 298

We will not yield to any pres­sure, be it in the form of mil­i­tary ac­tiv­i­ties, me­dia crit­i­cism or some self­claimed le­gal bod­ies.”

of the United Na­tions Con­ven­tion on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), ex­clud­ing is­sues like mar­itime de­lim­i­ta­tion for such pro­cesses. China has re­peat­edly stated that the tri­bunal has no ju­ris­dic­tion.

“The case was also care­fully masked,” Cui said. “But it is be­yond any doubt that the core is­sue is a ter­ri­to­rial dis­pute, and ter­ri­to­rial is­sues are not sub­ject to UNCLOS.”

He de­scribed the tri­bunal’s fail­ure to rec­og­nize that as “a mat­ter of pro­fes­sional in­com­pe­tence,” adding that “de­lib­er­ate dis­re­gard is a mat­ter of ques­tion­able in­tegrity”.

Cui de­scribed the case as ini­ti­ated not out of good faith and said the pro­ceed­ings will prob­a­bly do great dam­age to the ef­forts by mem­bers of the in­ter­na­tional com­mu­nity to en­gage in ne­go­ti­a­tions and con­sul­ta­tion for set­tle­ment of any pos­si­ble dis­putes.

“Such ab­surd pro­ceed­ings were tak­ing place in com­bi­na­tion with mil­i­tary co­er­cion — with mount­ing ac­tiv­i­ties by de­stroy­ers, air­craft car­ri­ers, strate­gic bombers, re­con­nais­sance planes and many oth­ers,” he said, clearly re­fer­ring to the es­ca­lat­ing US mil­i­tary pres­ence and ac­tiv­i­ties in the South China Sea.

“I be­lieve this is an out­right man­i­fes­ta­tion of ‘might is right’,” he said.

Cui said ten­sions be­gan to rise in the South China Sea about five or six years ago, the same time peo­ple heard about the pivot to Asia. He said dis­putes have in­ten­si­fied, re­la­tions strained and con­fi­dence weak­ened in the last few years.

“These is­sues have taken so much time and en­ergy at so many re­gional and in­ter­na­tional fo­rums, time that should have been spent to pro­mote co­op­er­a­tion,” he said.

The Chi­nese am­bas­sador warned that if the Asia-Pa­cific is desta­bi­lized, re­gional eco­nomic growth mo­men­tum weak­ened and armed con­flict starts, ev­ery­one’s in­ter­ests will be hurt.

He re­pu­di­ated the blame on China’s land recla­ma­tion, say­ing China is the last coun­try to do so and does so only on the is­lands and reefs un­der its own con­trol, rather than try­ing to take back the is­lands and reefs il­le­gally oc­cu­pied by oth­ers.

Cui em­pha­sized that ne­go­ti­a­tion and con­sul­ta­tion among par­ties con­cerned still of­fer the most fea­si­ble and ef­fec­tive way for­ward. He said diplo­matic ef­forts should not and will not be blocked by “a scrap of pa­per or by a fleet of air­craft car­ri­ers.”

He cited the ex­am­ple of China’s good track record of solv­ing land border dis­putes with 12 of its 14 neigh­bors and also the agree­ment with Viet­nam on mar­itime de­lim­i­ta­tion.

“So we are con­fi­dent that China and other par­ties con­cerned, if not dis­turbed, will be able to re­solve boundary is­sues over time through ne­go­ti­a­tions and con­sul­ta­tions,” he said.

Cui re­it­er­ated that the ter­ri­to­rial is­sues in the South China Sea should not be an is­sue be­tween China and the US or seen as part of a strate­gic ri­valry be­tween the two coun­tries.

CHEN WEIHUA / CHINA DAILY

Cui Tiankai, China’s am­bas­sador to the US Cui Tiankai, Chi­nese am­bas­sador to the United States, talks about China’s stance on the South China Sea is­sue on Tues­day af­ter­noon at the Cen­ter for Strate­gic and In­ter­na­tional Stud­ies in Wash­ing­ton af­ter the rul­ing by the ar­bi­tra­tion tri­bunal at The Hague in a case brought by the Philip­pines against China re­gard­ing the South China Sea dis­pute.

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