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Sub-anchor: The Philippines vs. China over arbitration

Reporter: Han Bin 丨 CCTV.com

06-09-2016 04:14 BJT

Full coverage: South China Sea Is Indisputable Part of China

CCTV reporter Han Bin is now in the studio for more details. China has taken a position of no acceptance and participation in the arbitration. Please briefly inform us the arguing points between the Philippines and China over the arbitration.

Basically speaking, China believes the jurisdiction is beyond the scope of the UN Convention. And that the arbitration is invalid. The Philippines' claims are more recent, started only in the 1970s. They mainly rely on the interpretation of the UN Convention, and the principle of geographic proximity, as well as effective control. The Philippines has stressed the arbitration does not touch on the territorial issue; they only wanted a legal proving that the islands and reefs China controlled are in fact rocks or low tide elevations that do not enjoy maritime rights.

China believes it’s impossible to discuss most of the claims without first clarifying Chinese and Philippines sovereignty over the island features. China’s claims date long before the Philippines even achieved independence. It believes the disputes come from Philippines illegal occupation. Geographic proximity cannot support the claims. And the principle of “land dominating the sea” refutes the extension of jurisdiction from water to land features.

By submitting the Notification, the Philippines has broken commitment with China for bilateral talks on disputes, and has closed the door for negotiation. Many have pointed out that China and the Philippines cannot solve disputes when the two sides have completely different understandings of history and international laws.

The Chinese government has always been saying, negotiation is the only way for peaceful settlement of territorial disputes. How can China resolve disputes in such a complicated situation?

The major disputes in the South China Sea are Sovereignty to islands, maritime boundaries and navigation rights. But none of them have easy solutions, and all of them are closely linked. Thus, resolving the disputes require extreme talents, patients and compromises. Can China achieve peaceful settlement with other nations? There should be no reason to doubt China’s sincerity in resolving disputes through dialogues.

China has signed treaties with 12 of 14 continent neighbors. Some treaties were signed after 35 years of negotiations. “Shelfing the differences, and Seeking Joint Development” is one concept China mostly discussed with neighboring countries and have been put into the ASEAN-China joint declaration framework. One pioneering example was in 2005, when China, the Philippines and Vietnam trilateral agreement on seismic survey in the sea area around the Nansha Islands (also known as the Spratlys).

It’s common understanding that joint development needs all parties to put aside their differences, and seek mutually benefiting results to overcome territorial disputes. However, it requires to joining hands in seeking possible breakthroughs by negotiations.

Disputes over the South China Sea islands and their adjacent waters are unlikely to go away in the near future. So the major challenge for China and its neighboring states, will be how to balance their interests and priorities, beyond the territorial disputes in the South China Sea.

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