Arab Times

Up to Manila to ‘mend ties’

‘Open knot’

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BEIJING, Nov 11, (RTRS): Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said the Philippine­s’ case against China at an arbitratio­n tribunal over rival claims in the South China Sea had strained relations and that it was up to the Philippine­s to heal the rift.

The arbitratio­n case against China in the Hague “is a knot that has impeded the improvemen­t and developmen­t of SinoPhilip­pine relations”, a statement on the Foreign Ministry’s website cited Wang as saying in Manila.

“We do not want this knot to become tighter and tighter, so that it even becomes a dead knot,” Wang told reporters in Manila. “As for how to loosen or open the knot, (we’ll) have to look at the Philippine­s.”

Beijing’s claim to almost the entire South China Sea is shown on Chinese maps with a nine-dash line that stretches deep into the maritime heart of Southeast Asia. Vietnam, the Philippine­s, Taiwan, Malaysia and Brunei also claim parts of the waterway.

Resolved The nine-dash line also includes parts of the Indonesian-held Natuna islands and Jakarta could take China to the Internatio­nal Criminal Court if Beijing’s claim is not resolved through dialogue, Indonesia’s security chief said on Wednesday.

For years, China has insisted that disputes with rival claimants be handled bilaterall­y.

In a legal setback for Beijing, the arbitratio­n court in the Netherland­s ruled late last month that it had jurisdicti­on to hear some territoria­l claims the Philippine­s had filed against China.

The Philippine­s has welcomed the decision and its Foreign Affairs Department said on Wednesday it would pursue the case “to its logical conclusion”.

“China’s nine-dash line claim is expansive, excessive and has no basis under internatio­nal law,” said foreign affairs spokesman Charles Jose. “If left unchalleng­ed, we could lose about 80 percent of our EEZ (exclusive economic zone).”

China has boycotted the legal proceeding­s and rejects the court’s authority in the case.

Ruling Manila filed the case in 2013 to seek a ruling on its right to exploit the South China Sea waters in its 200-nautical mile EEZ as allowed under the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea.

“The person who caused the problem should solve it,” Wang said. “We hope that the Philippine­s can make a more sensible choice.”

Next week, Manila hosts the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperatio­n (APEC) summit, an event at which the United States says the South China Sea will likely come up on the sidelines.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei said China hoped “sensitive political topics” would not be discussed there.

“We hope all sides can uphold the economic trade essence of the APEC forum,” he told reporters in Beijing.

Wang

Also: JAKARTA: Indonesia could take China to the Internatio­nal Criminal Court (ICC) if Beijing’s claim to the majority of the South China Sea and part of Indonesian territory is not resolved through dialogue, Indonesia’s security chief said on Wednesday.

Beijing’s claim to almost the entire South China Sea is shown on Chinese maps with a nine-dash line that stretches deep into the maritime heart of Southeast Asia, including parts of the Indonesian­held Natuna islands.

Vietnam, the Philippine­s, Taiwan, Malaysia and Brunei also claim parts of the waterway. The Philippine­s has already taken China to the Permanent Court of Arbitratio­n in the Hague, a case Beijing refuses to recognise.

Indonesia believes China’s claim over parts of the Natuna islands has no legal basis.

“We are working very hard on this. We are trying to approach the Chinese,” Luhut Panjaitan told reporters. “We would like to see a solution on this in the near future through dialogue, or we could bring it to the Internatio­nal Criminal Court.

“We don’t want to see any power projection in this area. We would like a peaceful solution by promoting dialogue. The nine-dash line is a problem we are facing, but not only us.

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