India on Thursday contested China’s claims that Arbitral Tribunal has no authority to resolve territorial disputes in South China Sea (SCS), saying the authority of the court and its award is recognised in the provisions of United Nations Conference on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS).
External affairs ministry spokesperson Vikas Swarup also asserted that India was not in “favour or against” any particular country and the whole issue was a matter of law.
“The authority of the Annex VII Tribunal and its award is recognised in Part XV of the UNCLOS itself. India’s own record in this regard is also well known,” he said.
Asked whether India was with or against China on the issue of the Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) verdict on SCS, he said, “This is not an issue of being in favour or against any particular country.
“It is about the use of the global commons. It is not a matter of politics, it is a matter of law. Ours is a principled position, deriving from India being a State Party to the UNCLOS. As a State Party, we believe that all Parties should show utmost respect to the UNCLOS which establishes the international legal order of the seas and oceans.”
Earlier this week, PCA ruled against China in a bitter row over territorial and “concluded that there was no legal basis for China to claim historic rights within the sea areas falling within the ‘nine-dash line’.”
Asserting that it “does not accept and does not recognise” the ruling, China rejected the verdict as “null and void”.
China asserts sovereignty over almost all of the strategically vital waters in the face of rival claims from its Southeast Asian neighbours.
On a statement by the Chinese Deputy Foreign Minister that war-like situation may develop in the South China Sea, Swarup reiterated his earlier comments that India believes that states should resolve disputes through peaceful means without threat or use of force and exercise self restraint in the conduct of activities that could complicate or escalate dispute affecting peace and stability.
“No unilateral action should be taken which may cause tension in the area,” he added.