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Stop playing with fire in S. China Sea, says Chinese diplomat

Reporter: Ding Siyue 丨 CCTV.com

06-11-2016 12:34 BJT

Full coverage: South China Sea Is Indisputable Part of China

China's ambassador to the UK, Liu Xiaoming, has urged the Philippines to return to the negotiation table over the South China Sea issue. He also warned countries outside the region to "stop playing with fire." The remarks were made in a signed article published by British newspaper, the Daily Telegraph.

Rejection and non-participation. That's always been China's stance on the South China Sea arbitration unilaterally initiated by the Philippines.

China's ambassador to the UK, Liu Xiaoming, has defended this position in a newspaper article, saying it adheres to international law.

Liu explained that submissions made by the Philippines appear only to be related to the classification of maritime features and fishery disputes, but are in essence inseparable from territorial sovereignty and maritime demarcation.

But he pointed out that territorial sovereignty was not within the scope of the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea... and the Permanent Court of Arbitration has no jurisdiction to judge the case.

Liu said the Philippines is trying to legitimize its illegal occupation of the Nansha Islands and reefs.

He added the Philippines has continually provoked disputes over islands and reefs in the region, for example, the forcible "grounding" of a warship on China's reef to claim a territorial right. More than 40 of China's islands and reefs in Nansha are illegally occupied by the Philippines and some other countries. Countries have built airstrips and deployed weapons there.

Liu Xiaoming stressed that China has responded to Manila's provocations with self-restraint and repeated a call for negotiations. But it appears that the Philippines sees China's self-restraint as a sign of weakness, said the article.

Liu pointed out there's an evident "wirepuller" behind the situation. He said that for years, a country outside the region has been stepping up its rebalancing strategy in the Asia Pacific, and making provocative remarks and moves.

However, the article concluded that the South China Sea issue should be negotiated only by the parties directly involved, which Liu said is the only way to resolve disputes. 

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