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S China Sea arbitration sparks heated online discussion

Editor: Zhang Pengfei 丨Xinhua

07-14-2016 08:28 BJT

Full coverage: The South China Sea Issue

BEIJING, July 13 (Xinhua) -- The award by the arbitral tribunal on the South China Sea has triggered wide discussion online, with many Chinese expressing anger and some others uttering rational analysis and calling for a peaceful solution.

The tribunal handling the South China Sea arbitration case unilaterally initiated by the former Philippine government issued its final award on Tuesday, amid a global chorus that the panel has no jurisdiction.

In a press release accompanying the 479-page award, the five-member tribunal offered a summary of its decision, which almost completely accepted the claims filed by the administration of former Philippine President Benigno S. Aquino III.

The Chinese Foreign Ministry responded on Tuesday that the award "is null and void and has no binding force." It accused the Philippines of "bad faith," saying that the aim was not to resolve the dispute nor to maintain peace and stability, but simply to deny China's territorial sovereignty and maritime rights and interests.

On Sina Weibo, China's equivalent of Twitter, protecting Chinese territory has become the hottest topic, with over 3.7 billion reads and nearly 6 million related comments as of 4 p.m. on Wednesday.

The award has not only been dismissed by the Chinese government, but has also riled many members of the public.

"History speaks for itself, the South China Sea has always been part of China. I am so angry about the award," said a netizen with the screen name "Queen 5."

"For anyone who intends to offend Chinese territory, we are ready for a war whenever we're needed," said "Lam_CrJ," who claimed to be a retired solider.

Conflict suggested by netizens like "Lam-CrJ" has triggered concern among others, with calls for a peaceful solution to the disputes. "Whoever starts a modern war, the consequences would be serious, and the ultimate victims would be people of both countries," said "user5678319279."

More rational voices include analysis concluding the award was ill-grounded and the arbitration a political farce.

"Chourenzuoguaid" said the arbitration is actually a manifestation of other countries' "greed for the resources of China's South China Sea and an attempt to have a bite on them," adding it is reasonable for China to neither participate in nor accept the award.

"Renxing2016" compared the arbitration to a soccer game, in which a team organized their own referee and linesmen who turned against the other team. "We [China] quit to protest the game, and then the judges announced we had lost."

Zhu Dongliang, of Xiamen University, said most of the discussion about the South China Sea disputes demonstrates public concern over national issues.

"Their personal comments have shown they care about national interests," he said.

Zhu noted that more netizens have adopted a calm and rational attitude than vented their anger irrationally, such as calling for war and refusing Philippine products.

Zheng Yongnian, director of the East Asian Institute of the National University of Singapore, said the arbitration is a political issue manipulated by the United States, which demands political solutions, instead of the employment of the law. "Seeing the essence of the problem, we should remain calm towards the result," he told China Central Television on Monday.

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