Hypocrisy abounds in Philippines’ plea for South China Sea arbitration

Source:Xinhua Published: 2016-6-1 17:58:01

Since when did the international community judge disputes based on the one-sided rhetoric of the so-called weaker side instead of right and wrong?

Many outsiders take for granted that the Philippines filed the South China Sea dispute case with the arbitral tribunal in The Hague because it was being bullied by China.

It is understandable for the Philippines to entertain the idea that it, having less power and leverage, could not negotiate a more desirable deal out of the dispute with China bilaterally. But just because the Philippines is smaller and weaker than China does not necessarily make its claims valid.

First and foremost, by unilaterally initiating the arbitration, the Philippines not only abandoned the "Pacta sunt servanda" principle in international law, which means "agreements must be kept," but also violated China's right as a State Party to the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) to seek a dispute settlement means of its own choice.

Accusing China of not respecting the tribunal, the Philippines has never explained why it brought the case to The Hague in 2012 when it still had an agreement to honor with China - to resolve disputes through negotiations.

Then we come to the abuse of power by the arbitral tribunal, which doesn't even have the right to hear the case and exercise jurisdiction.

In essence, the Philippines' requests are about territorial sovereignty and maritime delimitation, which are subject to general international law, not the UNCLOS. And China already made a declaration on optional exceptions in 2006 in accordance with the UNCLOS, which excluded disputes concerning maritime delimitation, historic bays or titles, as well as military and law enforcement activities from the dispute settlement procedures provided for in the convention.

Sadly, the tribunal chose to ignore the fact and abuse its power.

Moreover, the Philippines tells lies to the international community whenever it sees fit. It has on the one hand refused to handle the disputes as agreed and on the other hand claimed that bilateral means have been exhausted.

But the bottom line is that the territorial dispute was caused exactly by the Philippines' invasion and illegal occupation of a number of islands and reefs of China's Nansha Islands in the 1970s. Before that, it did not raise any objections to China's jurisdiction of the islands.

That's why China insists on its position that it will not accept or recognize such arbitration, which has been illegal from the very beginning.

By filing the case to the tribunal, the Philippines showed no goodwill nor the intention to peacefully solve the South China Sea issue, but only wanted to ramp up political pressure on China.

And the so-called arbitration is nothing but a political farce and provocation under the pretext of law.

The Philippines may paint a "David vs Goliath" picture and play the victim, but it still is not on the righteous side.

Nobody should doubt China's will to safeguard its core interests. As a spokesperson for the foreign ministry put it, "China will never bully small countries, but we will in no way tolerate a small country making up excuses and hurting China's interests."

This is a commentary of the Xinhua News Agency. opinion@globaltimes.com.cn

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