China has lost a key international legal case over strategic reefs and atolls that it claims would give it control over disputed waters of the South China Sea.
The judgment by an international tribunal in The Hague is overwhelmingly in favour of claims by the Philippines and will increase global diplomatic pressure on Beijing to scale back military expansion in the sensitive area.
China reacted angrily to the verdict. Xinhua, the country’s official news agency, hit out at what it described as an “ill-founded” ruling that was “naturally null and void”. The Communist party mouthpiece newspaper the People’s Daily said in an editorial that the tribunal had ignored “basic truths” and “tramped” on international laws and norms. “The Chinese government and the Chinese people firmly oppose [the ruling] and will neither acknowledge it nor accept it,” it added.
China’s defence ministry said its troops would “unswervingly safeguard state sovereignty, security, maritime rights and interests,” according to state broadcaster CCTV. A more conciliatory statement from the foreign ministry said China was “ready to make every effort with the states directly concerned to enter into provisional arrangements of a practical nature, including joint development in relevant maritime areas” pending a final settlement. It said it wanted to achieve “win-win results and jointly maintain peace and stability in the South China Sea.”
The Philippine foreign affairs secretary, Perfecto Yasay Jr, said the country welcomed the ruling and called for “restraint and sobriety.”
By depriving certain outcrops of territorial-generating status, the ruling effectively punches holes in China’s all-encompassing “nine-dash” demarcation line that stretches deep into the South China Sea. It declares large areas of the sea to be neutral international waters.
SOURCE: The Guardian