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South China Sea ruling will ‘intensify conflict,’ says Chinese envoy

world Updated: Jul 13, 2016 10:07 IST

A ship (top) of the Chinese Coast Guard is seen near a ship of the Vietnam Marine Guard in the South China Sea, about 210 km (130 miles) off shore of Vietnam May 14, 2014.(Reuters Photo)

Beijing’s ambassador to the United States made a blunt rebuke Tuesday of an international tribunal ruling that rendered its claims in the South China Sea invalid.

China asserts sovereignty over almost all of the strategically vital waters, despite rival claims from its Southeast Asian neighbors, most notably the Philippines.

The decision by the UN-backed tribunal in The Hague “will certainly undermine or weaken the motivation of states to engage in negotiations and consultations for solving their dispute,” ambassador Cui Tiankai said.

“It will certainly intensify conflicts and even confrontation,” he added, speaking at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

“In the end, it will undermine the authority and effectiveness of international law.”

The envoy also warned that the Permanent Court of Arbitration’s ruling “will probably open the door of abusing arbitration procedures.”

Read| Chinese President Xi leads Beijing’s charge against ruling on South China Sea

China’s claims, which include waters approaching neighboring countries, are based on a vaguely defined “nine-dash-line” found on a 1940s Chinese map.

The row has embroiled the United States, which has deployed aircraft carriers and a host of other vessels to assert freedom of navigation in the waters -- through which a third of the global oil trade passes.

FILE - This image with notations provided by ImageSat International N.V., on Wednesday, Feb. 17, 2016, shows satellite images of Woody Island, the largest of the Paracel Islands, in the South China Sea. A tribunal ruled in a sweeping decision Tuesday, July 12, 2016, that China has no legal basis for claiming much of the South China Sea and had aggravated the seething regional dispute with its large-scale land reclamation and construction of artificial islands that destroyed coral reefs and the natural condition of the disputed areas. (AP)

Criticizing the American show of force in the region, Cui warned it could lead to conflict.

“Intensified military activities so close to Chinese islands and reefs or even entering the neighboring waters of these islands and reefs, these activities certainly have the risk of leading to some conflict,” he said.

“I am quite sure they will have the effect of destabilizing regional stability,” the ambassador added.

Read| ‘Beijing has no historic title over South China Sea’: Timeline of dispute

“If armed conflict started, everybody’s interest would be hurt, including our interest and I am sure the interests of the USA.”

The envoy blamed Washington’s pivot to Asia under President Barack Obama for increased tensions.

“Tensions started to rise five to six years ago, about the same time we began to hear from the so-called pivoting to Asia,” Cui said.

“Disputes intensified, relations strained, confidence weakened.”

Read| If China defies tribunal without tangible loss, Beijing will be the winner