China rejects arbitration over South China Sea row

China at odds with most of its littoral neighbors over territorial claims.
By Daniel J. Graeber  |  Dec. 8, 2014 at 6:41 AM
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BEIJING, Dec. 8 (UPI) -- A tribunal set up at the request of the government of the Philippines has no jurisdiction over claims to the South China Sea, the Chinese government said.

China is at odds with its neighbors over claims to parts of the South China Sea. The government in Manila took its case to international arbiters in The Hague, arguing Beijing has taken assertive action to stake its claims to parts of the South China Sea.

A policy paper published Sunday by the Chinese Foreign Ministry said Beijing it is not accepting the reach of the international court.

"The arbitral tribunal established at the request of the Philippines for the present arbitration does not have jurisdiction over this case," it reads.

Territorial disputes extend to Vietnam. China National Petroleum Corp. in July said it completed drilling and exploration activity in waters of the South China Sea disputed with Vietnam and pulled its rig out of the area.

Apart from the rig deployment, China has taken provocative actions in the South China Sea against most of its littoral neighbors. The Vietnamese case, in particular, sparked international attention.

China says it's operating within its maritime borders. Western powers have remained mum on sovereign claims to the territory in question, but typically view China as the aggressor.

The publication of the policy paper comes less than a year after President Barack Obama visited the region to emphasize U.S. alliances in the region. Washington has a defense treaty with the Philippines.

Beijing, meanwhile, says the matter should be settled through bilateral diplomatic means.

"China and the Philippines have agreed, through bilateral instruments ... , to settle their relevant disputes through negotiations," the policy paper said. "By unilaterally initiating the present arbitration, the Philippines has breached its obligation under international law."

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