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Law-abusing tribunal to issue award on South China Sea arbitration

Editor: Zhang Jianfeng 丨Xinhua

07-12-2016 14:10 BJT

Full coverage: The South China Sea Issue

July 12 (Xinhua) -- An arbitral tribunal with widely contested jurisdiction Tuesday will issue its final award on the South China Sea case unilaterally initiated by the Philippines.

The Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA), acting as the registry of the tribunal, said on June 29 that "the Award will first be issued via e-mail to the Parties, along with an accompanying Press Release containing a summary of the Award."

China has refused to participate in the proceedings and declared that it will never recognize the verdict, stressing that the tribunal has no jurisdiction because the case is in essence related to territorial sovereignty and maritime delimitation.

Beijing has pointed out that territorial issues are not subject to the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), and that as early as in 2006 it declared -- in line with UNCLOS -- to exclude disputes concerning maritime delimitation from mandatory dispute-settlement procedures. Some 30 countries have also filed declarations of this kind.

The government of former Philippine President Benigno Aquino III filed the arbitration against China in 2013, despite an agreement his country had reached with China on resolving their South China Sea disputes through bilateral negotiations.

Although Manila asserted that its submissions do not concern territorial sovereignty or maritime delimitation, the Philippine Foreign Ministry, a day after launching the arbitration, described the purpose of the case as being to "protect our country's territory and oceanic area" and vowed not to "give up our country's sovereignty."

Abraham Sofaer, a former legal adviser to the U.S. State Department, said last month that the tribunal's ruling "will broadly undermine the potential utility of international adjudication."

Meanwhile, Beijing, whose stance on the arbitration case has drawn support from more than 60 countries and international organizations, insists that the South China Sea issue should be resolved through negotiations and consultations between the directly involved parties.

Many in the Philippines share this view. Rosario Manalo, a former Philippine foreign affairs under-secretary for international economic relations, said the best thing for both the Philippines and China is to "sit down and talk."

The country's new President Rodrigo Duterte also said he will pursue bilateral talks with China, adding he might explore possible joint exploration in the disputed South China Sea.

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