‘Arbitral ruling illegal product of Phl’s abuse of rights’
(The Philippine Star) - July 6, 2016 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines – With the arbitral tribunal set to announce its verdict on Manila’s maritime case against China on July 12, Beijing said any ruling would be an “illegal” product of the Philippines’ abusing its right, and would be devoid of the “force of law.”

China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs said the arbitral tribunal in The Hague “unilaterally” set up at the request of the Philippines has no jurisdiction over the case against China.

Paul Reichler, the Philippines’ chief counsel in the South China Sea arbitration case, said in an interview with Reuters on June 29 that China bases its South China Sea claim on a “nine-dash line” covering hundreds of disputed islands and reefs, rich fishing grounds and oil and gas deposits.

Reichler also said that the ruling against Beijing is expected to deprive China of any legal basis for its claim.

“As a lawyer for the Philippines, Mr. Reichler is supposed to know what is on the mind of the Philippines,” said foreign ministry spokesperson Hong Lei in a press conference in Beijing on Monday.

“However, it seems dubious that he also knows the ruling of the arbitration even before the award comes out, and knows that the award will just be what he expects,” he said.

What Reichler said, according to Hong, lays bare the lie the Aquino administration has been cooking up for over three years.

“China’s sovereignty and rights and interests in the South China Sea are not subject to illegal rulings,” he said.

In Beijing, the state-run Global Times said China should prepare itself for military confrontation in the South China Sea.

Tensions have been rising ahead of the July 12 ruling by the Permanent Court of Arbitration.

In joint editorials in its Chinese and English editions, the Global Times said the dispute, having already been complicated by US intervention, now faces further escalation due to the threat posed by the tribunal to China’s sovereignty.

“Washington has deployed two carrier battle groups around the South China Sea, and it wants to send a signal by flexing its muscles: as the biggest powerhouse in the region, it awaits China’s obedience,” it said.

China should speed up developing its military deterrence abilities, the paper added.

“Even though China cannot keep up with the US militarily in the short-term, it should be able to let the US pay a cost it cannot stand if it intervenes in the South China Sea dispute by force,” it said.

“China hopes disputes can be resolved by talks, but it must be prepared for any military confrontation. This is common sense in international relations.”

The newspaper is published by the ruling Communist Party’s official People’s Daily, and while it is widely read in policy-making circles it does not have the same mouthpiece function as its parent and its editorials cannot be viewed as representing government policy. It is also well-known for its extreme nationalist views.

China, which has been angered by US patrols in the South China Sea, will be holding military drills in the waters there starting on Wednesday.

China’s Defense Ministry said the drills are routine, the official China Daily reported.

Manila has sought to dial down tensions with its powerful neighbor ahead of the decision but resisted pressure to ignore the ruling.

“The reality is that nobody wants a conflict, nobody wants to resolve our conflict in a violent manner, nobody wants war,” Foreign Secretary Perfecto Yasay Jr. told ANC television on yesterday.

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