As far as China is concerned, the Philippines is the country that started it all.
Reacting to the UN arbitration case at The Hague, China once again reiterated its non-recognition of the proceedings and gave out its own version of the events leading to the current dispute, the Philippine Daily Inquirer reported.
“The origin and crux of the disputes between China and the Philippines in the [West Philippine] Sea lie in the territorial sovereignty disputes caused by the Philippines’ illegal occupation of some islands and reefs of China’s Nansha Islands since the 1970s,” said China’s Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying.
Exercising Utmost Restraint of a “Victim”
Amid the Philippines’ “aggressive posturing” and UN arbitration proceedings, Hua said her country acted graciously and patiently with its smaller neighbor.
“Being a victim of the [West Philippine] Sea issue, China, bearing in mind the whole situation of regional peace and stability, has been exercising utmost restraint,” she pointed out.
As again, Hua emphasized that her country will not recognize the proceedings nor accept any inputs from outsiders.
“China opposes any move by the Philippines to initiate and push forward the arbitral proceeding,” she said. “On issues of territorial sovereignty and maritime rights and interests, China will never accept any imposed solution or unilaterally resorting to a third-party settlement.
The Permanent Court of Arbitration has given China a one month deadline to respond to the Philippines’ claims following the end of the latter’s arguments pleading the tribunal to assume jurisdiction over the dispute.
China has repeatedly refused to recognize the proceedings; saying the tribunal has no jurisdiction to hear a case involving sovereignty. On the other hand, the Philippines argued that the dispute is maritime in nature and concerns China’s 9-dash line claim which violates the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS).