Journalists gather outside the Peace Palace in The Hague, Netherlands, on Tuesday, ahead of a ruling by an arbitration tribunal on the dispute between China and the Philippines in the South China Sea. Photo: AP
China on Tuesday firmly rejected the verdict of an international arbitration tribunal, claiming its ruling on the South China Sea is both "null and void" with no binding force.
The arbitration tribunal in The Hague Tuesday ruled that there was no legal basis for China to claim historic rights to resources within the sea areas falling within the nine-dash line.
The White House said it encourages all parties involved in the South China Sea case to not use the ruling as an opportunity to engage in provocative actions or escalate tensions, Reuters reported.
Maritime law experts said the result has met their worst expectations and that the ruling only shows that the tribunal has descended into a political tool manipulated by some countries.
Chinese President Xi Jinping said that China will not accept any proposition or action based on the award.
"China's territorial sovereignty and maritime interests in the South China Sea, under any circumstances, will not be affected by the award," Xi said on Tuesday afternoon while meeting with European Council President Donald Tusk and European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker in downtown Beijing.
China refused to participate in the arbitration when it was unilaterally initiated by the Philippines in 2013, as the country excluded maritime delimitation from compulsory arbitration in a declaration in 2006 citing Article 298 of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS). The arbitration carried on for the next three years in China's absence.
Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi Tuesday called the South China Sea arbitration a political farce made under the pretext of law.
Yang Yujun, spokesperson for the Ministry of National Defense, said that the Chinese military will resolutely protect its national sovereignty, security and maritime rights and interests, safeguard regional peace and stability, and cope with all kinds of threats and challenges.
Philippine Foreign Secretary Perfecto Yasay Tuesday called the arbitration a "milestone decision" and claimed the country would pursue a peaceful resolution of its territorial disputes with China, the Associated Press reported.
Theodore Te, spokesperson for the Philippine Supreme Court, said at a press conference that he hopes China can abide by the ruling, but what follows is left for the diplomats and the disputes in the South China Sea region will have be solved diplomatically and politically.
US Department of State counselor Kristie Kenney on Tuesday urged all parties in the South China Sea disputes to respect the ruling made by the tribunal constituted under UNCLOS.
The US is not a signatory to UNCLOS.
"The judgment, which was chiefly in favor of claims by the Philippines, has lived up to the worst expectations. Disavowing the nine-dash line means negating the foundations of China's sovereignty claims over the South China Sea," Chen Xiangmiao, a research fellow at the National Institute for the South China Sea, told the Global Times.
"The international tribunal chose to neglect history and facts and it is unfair to blame China for endangering the environment in the South China Sea," Liu Feng, an expert on Chinese maritime issues, told the Global Times.
Liu said that the unfair ruling shows that the international arbitration tribunal has descended to becoming a pawn of the US to stir troubles in the South China Sea.
The tribunal condemned China's land reclamation projects and construction of artificial islands at seven features in the Nansha Islands, concluding that it had caused "severe harm to the coral reef environment and violated its obligation to preserve and protect fragile ecosystems and the habitat of depleted, threatened, or endangered species."
Some Chinese citizens protested in front of the tribunal in The Hague on Tuesday, holding signs on which was written "Support China and protest invalid arbitration." A Beijing resident at the protest surnamed Duan told the Global Times that China would take no "absurd verdict."
Some Chinese people in front of the court began to sing the national anthem and other patriotic songs after hearing about the final verdict.
The US and the Philippines have long condemned China's land reclamation in the South China Sea, claiming it would restrict freedom of navigation and over-flight.
China's foreign ministry retaliated against the US accusation over China's legal activities on its own territory and said that the US activities "militarize the South China Sea region," the Xinhua News Agency reported.
Zhao Yongsheng, a Paris-based economist and vice president of the China-France Association of Lawyers and Economists, told the Global Times that "since China refused to refer the case to arbitration, the whole procedure of arbitration is invalid and ridiculous. The ruling is essentially a joke."
Chen said that China should increase jurisdiction and legal presence in the South China Sea, including fishing and land reclamation after the arbitration and seek bilateral talks with the Philippine government.