China slams Philippine bid to "legalize" occupation of islands

BEIJING Fri Apr 26, 2013 2:31am EDT

Related Topics

BEIJING (Reuters) - China accused the Philippines on Friday of trying to legalize its occupation of islands in the disputed South China Sea, repeating that Beijing would never agree to international arbitration.

Frustrated with the slow pace of regional diplomacy, the Philippines in January angered China by asking a U.N. tribunal to order a halt to Beijing's activities that it said violated Philippine sovereignty over the islands, surrounded by potentially energy-rich waters.

Claims by an increasingly powerful China over most of the South China Sea have set it directly against U.S. allies Vietnam and the Philippines. Brunei, Taiwan and Malaysia also claim parts of the waters and China has a separate dispute with Japan in the East China Sea.

Manila said on Thursday that a U.N. arbitration court had set up the tribunal which would hear Manila's complaint, but China said this was an attempt to steal Chinese territory.

"The Philippine side is trying to use this to negate China's territorial sovereignty and attach a veneer of 'legality' to its illegal occupation of Chinese islands and reefs," the Foreign Ministry said in a statement on its website (

The Philippines must immediately withdraw personnel and facilities from the islands, the ministry added, listing those which it said Manila was occupying.

Manila asked the tribunal of the U.N. Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) to order a halt to China's activities.

But the convention did not apply in this case as what the Philippines was actually asking for was a decision on sovereignty, the ministry said.

"China's refusal to accept the Philippines' request for arbitration has full grounding in international law," it said.

China had always believed that the two countries should resolve their dispute through direct talks, the ministry added.

Southeast Asian nations stepped up efforts on Thursday to engage China in talks to resolve maritime tensions, agreeing to meet to try to reach common ground on disputed waters ahead of planned discussions in Beijing later this year.

Efforts by the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) to craft a code of conduct to manage South China Sea tensions all but collapsed last year at a summit chaired by Cambodia, a close economic ally of China, when the group failed to issue a closing statement for the first time.

(Reporting by Ben Blanchard; Editing by Nick Macfie)

We welcome comments that advance the story through relevant opinion, anecdotes, links and data. If you see a comment that you believe is irrelevant or inappropriate, you can flag it to our editors by using the report abuse links. Views expressed in the comments do not represent those of Reuters. For more information on our comment policy, see
Comments (9)
Ummm, since when is Vietnam a US ally????

Apr 26, 2013 2:36am EDT  --  Report as abuse
Free_Pacific wrote:
Once China is found to be illegally occupying the territories in it’s possession, it will then fall foul of Manila’s defence Pact with the U.S. It’s answer to this? Threaten the Philippines and demand it implement policy set by Beijing.

The mask has now completely slipped off. China is a warmonger aggressor state, determined to throw us all into a new Great War. This is more than ample proof, it is now a solid fact. If China does not like a binding tribunal, it should withdraw from UNCLOS and expose itself in it’s all horrid ugliness to the world. The word of the Chinese government is worth less than nothing.

Apr 26, 2013 3:39am EDT  --  Report as abuse
MikeBarnett wrote:
China has outmaneuvered all of them. China and ASEAN signed the Conduct of Parties agreement in 2002 that bound claimants to the South China Sea to resolve disputes peacefully. In 2011, China signed bilateral treaties with all claimants to resolve disputes peacefully. China and the other countries agreed TWICE to NOT fight over their claims.

China does not need the uncertain resources of the South China Sea at this time because it sits next to the world’s biggest oil and gas station in Russian Siberia, has oil and gas deals with central Asia and the Middle East, and has oil and gas deals with Latin America and Africa. It has mineral deals with Australia, Mongolia, and Africa. China can negotiate but need not sign a new treaty until it has what it wants in that treaty.

The only winners in a conflict between the US and China would be al Qaeda and other islamic insurgent forces. This would allow for the elimination of Israel and the extermination of the Jews if US support is destroyed or reduced too severely. China and the US are the 2nd biggest trade partners for each other, and their differences should be settled peacefully. In addition, Russia knows that it would be next if the US is allowed to attack China, so Russia will devastate the US for its own self preservation. Finally, the US should not put itself at risk for small countries who have already signed agreements that may be slow but provide peaceful solutions. The US must recover from its 11.5 years of war and must not destroy itself over the IMPATIENCE of other countries.

Apr 26, 2013 4:01pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
This discussion is now closed. We welcome comments on our articles for a limited period after their publication.

Track China's Leaders