October 26, 2016

China asks Philippines to “disregard” tribunal ruling on South China Sea

The Philippines was asked by China to “disregard” an international tribunal ruling over the South China Sea, according to its foreign minister, BBC News reports.

Perfecto Yasay said he rejected an offer to hold negotiations “outside of and [in] disregard of” the ruling.

Last week, the Permanent Court of Arbitration ruled that China’s claims to rights in the South China Sea had no legal basis.

The case at the tribunal was brought by the Philippines.

China claims almost all of the South China Sea, and is locked in disputes with several other nations. It rejected the verdict of the tribunal.

There has been no comment from China in response to Yasay’s assertions but separately during a meeting on maritime security with the US, China remained defiant on the issue, state news agency Xinhua reported.

A Chinese military official said that they would “never stop construction” on the Nansha islands, China’s name for the Spratly islands, Xinhua said.

The tribunal ruling detailed where Beijing had violated Manila’s rights under international law, including its construction work on Mischief Reef.

“[China’s foreign minister] had asked us to open ourselves for bilateral negotiations but outside, or [in] disregard of, the arbitral ruling,” Perfecto Yasay told the ABS-CBN news channel.

“This is something I told him was not consistent with our constitution and our national interest.”

“They said that if you insist on the ruling and discussing it along those lines, then we might be headed for a confrontation,” Yasay said in the interview.

Yasay had met Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi on the sidelines of an Asia-Europe summit in Mongolia last weekend.

Negotiating the right of Filipino fishermen to return to the disputed Scarborough Shoal would be the first priority of the Philippines, said Yasay. He added that the implementation of all other parts of the ruling would be handled one-by-one.

“We will never stop our construction on the Nansha islands halfway,” Wu Shengli, commander of the People’s Liberation Army Navy told his US counterpart Admiral John Richardson on Tuesday, according to Xinhua.

“The Nansha islands are China’s inherent territory and our necessary construction on the islands is reasonable, justified and lawful,” Wu said.

China had previously dismissed the tribunal ruling as a “piece of waste paper”.

The US, Japan and Australia are among many countries who have urged Beijing to respect the tribunal ruling.

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