China blasts US for forcing it to accept South China Sea ruling

July 13, 2023 - 9:40 AM
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Filipino activists commemorate the anniversary of the Philippines' victory against China in the UN arbitral ruling on the South China Sea in a gathering outside the Chinese consular office in Makati City, Metro Manila, Philippines July 12, 2023. (Reuters/Eloisa Lopez)

 China accused the United States of “ganging up” and forcing it to accept a 2016 arbitration ruling over claims in the South China Sea, as Washington urged Beijing to halt what it called its routine harassment of vessels of other countries in the region.

The ruling, handed down by the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague seven years ago, concluded that Beijing’s claim to almost the entire South China Sea was groundless.

The U.S. ropes in allies to play up the issue each year on the anniversary of the illegal award to gang up against China and to exert pressure, and force China into accepting the award,” the Chinese embassy in the Philippines said on Wednesday, while calling Washington the “mastermind” behind the arbitration.

China, whose actions in the South China Sea have been the subject of hundreds of diplomatic protests filed by the Philippines, also maintained that it does not accept any claim or action based on the ruling.

“With its ruling, the tribunal violated the principle of state consent, went beyond its authority to hear the case and perverted law,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbing told a news conference.

Saying that the ruling was final and legally binding on the Philippines and China, U.S. State Department spokesperson Matthew Miller on Tuesday urged Beijing to “comport its maritime claims with international law.”

Beijing should also “halt its disruption to states’ sovereign rights to explore, exploit, conserve, and manage natural resources, and end its interference with the freedoms of navigation and overflight of states lawfully operating in the region,” he said.

To celebrate the anniversary of the arbitral award, which has received the backing of countries such as the United Kingdom, Japan and Australia, the Philippines foreign ministry on Wednesday launched a website containing information about Manila’s legal victory against Beijing.

“We firmly reject attempts to deliberately diminish or undermine the Award’s definitive legal effects in international law,” Philippines Foreign Ministry undersecretary Theresa Lazaro told a forum on the South China Sea. “Having been made final, the Award is no longer contestable and is beyond compromise.”

About $3 trillion worth of sea-borne goods pass through the South China Sea every year.

—Reporting by Beijing newsroom and Karen Lema in Manila; Writing by Bernard Orr; Editing by Raissa Kasolowsky and Mark Porter