After 6th Hague ruling anniversary, China insists tribunal decision is 'illegal'

Kaycee Valmonte - Philstar.com
After 6th Hague ruling anniversary, China insists tribunal decision is 'illegal'
This handout photo taken on April 27, 2021 and received from the Philippine Coastguard on May 5, 2021 shows Philippine coastguard personnel aboard their ship BRP Cabra monitoring Chinese vessels anchored at Sabina Shoal, a South China Sea outcrop claimed by Manila located about 135 kilometres (73 nautical miles) west of the Philippine island of Palawan.
Handout / Philippine Coastguard / AFP

MANILA, Philippines — After the anniversary of the 2016 Hague ruling, China continues to insist that it is "illegal, null and void." 

During their regular press conference on July 13, Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Wang Wenbin said the tribunal's decision "seriously violates international law, including the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea."

"China neither accepts nor recognizes it and will never accept any claim or action based on the award," Wang said. "By doing so, we are upholding international rule of law."

The award invalidated Beijing's nine-dash claims over the South China Sea and provided that certain sea areas are within the Philippines' exclusive economic zone and continental shelf.

READ: How the Hague court ruled on the Philippines’s 15 arguments

China has always ignored the award, with reports of Chinese vessels swarming Ayungin Shoal (Second Thomas Shoal) that is within disputed waters and Beijing has also shadowed Philippine boats in the area, among its other illegal activities.

The Philippines has filed over 200 diplomatic protests against China since 2016 due to its refusal to recognize the award. 

READ: China’s sea incursions part of broader provocation – US

On July 12, the sixth anniversary of the ruling, the Philippines said that it is indisputable. Secretary of Foreign Affairs Enrique Manalo said that Manila will "reject attempts to undermine it."

READ: 'Indisputable’: Philippines commemorates 6th anniversary of Hague ruling

But Beijing said that those who try to implement the award "will not succeed."

"China will respond to such attempts in accordance with law," Wang said.

China also claims that it has received support from the international community on the disputed waters. It added it is working with other Southeast Asian nations in implementing the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea, while a code of conduct on the disputed waters is also in the works.

China calls out US

Meanwhile, China also called out the US after Washington supposedly broke its commitment to taking no position on claims of sovereignty in the South China Sea.

"It has broken its public commitment of taking no position on sovereignty claims in the South China Sea, and sought to drive a wedge between regional countries and undermine peace and stability in the region," Wang said.

The US previously urged China to abide by international law and "cease its provocative behavior," noting a study conducted by its State Department showing that China's articulation of its maritime claims over the South China Sea remains inconsistent with international law. 

On Juy 12, Washington warned that any armed attack against the Philippines in the South China Sea would invoke its commitments under the U.S.-Philippines Mutual Defense Treaty.

READ: US backs Philippines on WPS, warns that Washington will back Manila should there be armed attacks

China said the US choosing to take a stance in the dispute is "extremely irresponsible."

"We urge the US to respect China’s sovereignty, rights and interests in the South China Sea, stop stirring up trouble and stop using the South China Sea issue to sow discord between regional countries," Wang said.

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