Following the verdict rendered by the Permanent Court of Arbitration in favour of The Philippines regarding the South China Sea dispute on Tuesday, more than 60 countries, including Kenya, have voiced their support for China’s stand on the matter.
The countries have indicated that they stand with the East Asian nation’s pursuit for dialogue and negotiations over the matter. A statement from Kenya’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs last month read in part: “The Government of the Republic of Kenya believes that any disputes over the South China Sea should be peacefully resolved through consultations and negotiations in accordance with bilateral agreements and the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea.”
On its part, Beijing maintains that it shall not abide by the ruling, terming it illegal and a ‘political farce’. “China will never accept the absurd argument that the illegal conclusion of an unlawful arbitration court is legally-binding,” said Foreign Affairs Ministry Spokesman, Lu Kang. Beijing has also faulted The Philippines for going back on a Declaration of Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea signed in 2002 between China and ASEAN countries.
“The Philippines turned its back on consensus and unilaterally initiated the South China Sea arbitration, deliberately mis-characterising and packaging a territorial issue which is not subject to United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, UNCLOS,” a government statement said.
On Wednesday, the State Council, which is China’s chief administrative body, issued a policy paper highlighting and asserting its historical ownership of and claim to the disputed territories in the South China Sea.
“The activities of the Chinese people in the South China Sea date back to over 2,000 years ago. China is the first to have discovered, named, and explored and exploited Nanhai Zhudao and relevant waters and the first to have exercised sovereignty and jurisdiction over them continuously,” stated the policy paper.
Beijing has also claimed that the tribunal received money from the immediate former Philippines President to rule in its favour. “The five judges in this case made their money. They were paid by The Philippines,” said Spokesman Lu Kang during a press briefing. Beijing has slammed the US, accusing Washington of interference in the matter.
However, on its part, The Philippines is adamant that China should respect the tribunal’s ruling, with the President’s representative to the two-day Asia-Europe summit which kicks off tomorrow in Mongolia, vowing to raise the issue with China’s Premier Li Keqiang who will also be in attendance.