Date
24 January 2017
Ambassador Cui Tiankai said Beijing remains committed to negotiations with other parties in disputes over the South China Sea. Photo: Reuters
Ambassador Cui Tiankai said Beijing remains committed to negotiations with other parties in disputes over the South China Sea. Photo: Reuters

South China Sea ruling will intensify conflict: Chinese envoy

An international tribunal’s ruling denying China’s claims in the South China Sea will “intensify conflict and even confrontation,” Beijing’s ambassador to the United States said.

Ambassador Cui Tiankai also told an international forum in Washington that Beijing remains committed to negotiations with other parties in disputes over the South China Sea waters, Reuters reports.

The Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague ruled on Tuesday that China had breached the Philippines’ sovereign rights by endangering Philippine ships and fishing and oil projects.

The Chinese diplomat blamed the rise in tension in the region on the United States’ “pivot” toward Asia in the past few years.

Cui said the arbitration case “will probably open the door of abusing arbitration procedures”.

“It will certainly undermine and weaken the motivation of states to engage in negotiations and consultations for solving their disputes,” he said.

“It will certainly intensify conflict and even confrontation.”

China boycotted the arbitration hearings and described them as a farce.

Legal experts and Asia policy specialists said China risked violating international law if it continued to strike a defiant tone and ignored the ruling.

The US, which China has accused of fueling tensions and militarizing the region with patrols and exercises, said the ruling should be treated as final and binding.

“We certainly would urge all parties not to use this as an opportunity to engage in escalatory or provocative action,” White House spokesman Josh Earnest told reporters in a briefing.

The ruling is significant as it is the first time that a legal challenge has been brought in the dispute.

The court has no power of enforcement, but a victory for the Philippines could spur Taiwan, Vietnam, Malaysia and Brunei to file similar cases on their claims to the waters.

US State Department spokesman John Kirby said Washington has seen signs in recent weeks of continued militarization by China in the South China Sea.

President Barack Obama’s top Asia policy adviser, Daniel Kritenbrink, said the US had no interest in stirring tensions in the South China Sea as a pretext for involvement in the region.

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RA/CG

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