China escalated its condemnation of the ruling by a UN-backed tribunal that struck down its “historical rights” over the South China Sea, issuing a “white paper” that asserted its claims over the strategic region and accused the Philippines of illegally occupying its territory.
The white paper said the core of the relevant disputes between China and the Philippines in the South China Sea lies in the territorial issues caused by the Philippines’ invasion and illegal occupation, starting in the 1970s, of some islands and reefs of China’s Nansha Qundao (the Nansha Islands).
“The Philippines has concocted many excuses to cover up this fact, and to pursue its territorial pretencions,” said the document, titled ‘China Adheres to the Position of Settling Through Negotiation the Relevant Disputes Between China and the Philippines in the South China Sea.’
The Philippines’ relevant claim is groundless from the perspectives of either history or international law, said the white paper issued by the State Council Information Office.
The document asserted that China has claims over the South China Sea for 2,000 years and the Philippines, which had filed the petition before the Permanent Court of Arbitration in the Hague, was occupying Chinese territory.
It attacked the Philippines for turning “a blind eye to bilateral consensus,” saying Manila has repeatedly taken moves that complicate the relevant disputes, gradually intensified them between China and the Philippines in the South China Sea.
In a major diplomatic blow to China, the tribunal working under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) struck down the Communist giant’s claims in the strategic waters.
The Hague-based court said China violated the Philippines’ sovereign rights. It said China has caused “severe harm to the coral reef environment” by building artificial islands.
China has often accused the US for fomenting trouble in the South China Sea, through which USD 3 trillion of trade passes annually and where Vietnam, the Philippines, Malaysia, Brunei and Taiwan have rival claims to the waters.
The white paper said with the development of the international law of the sea, a maritime delimitation dispute also arose between China and the Philippines regarding certain maritime areas of the South China Sea.
The Philippines built military facilities on some islands and reefs of China’s Nansha Qundao (the Nansha Islands/Spratly islands) it invaded and illegally occupied and deliberately destroyed survey markers set up by China, it said adding that Manila attempted to illegally occupy China’s Ren’ai Jiao by using a military vessel illegally run around it.
The Philippines intruded into relevant maritime areas of China’s Nansha Qundao to carry out illegal oil and gas exploratory drilling and bidding and has repeatedly harassed and attacked Chinese fishermen and fishing boats conducting routine fishing operations, according to the white paper.
In January 2013, then Philippine government unilaterally initiated the South China Sea arbitration.
By doing so, the Philippines has violated its standing agreement with China to settle the relevant disputes through bilateral negotiation, has violated China’s right to choose means of dispute settlement of its own will as a State Party to the UNCLOS, and has abused the UNCLOS dispute settlement procedures, it said.
“The Philippines has distorted facts, misinterpreted laws and concocted a pack of lies, in an attempt to deny China’s territorial sovereignty and maritime rights and interests in the South China Sea,” it said.
The tribunal established at the Philippines’ unilateral request has no jurisdiction over relevant submissions, and awards rendered by it are null and void and have no binding force, the white paper said.
China reaffirmed that its territorial sovereignty and maritime rights and interests in the South China Sea “shall under no circumstances be affected by those awards.” China does not accept or recognise those awards, it said.
The white paper said that China opposes and will never accept any claim or action based on those awards.