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South China Sea arbitration award solves nothing: senior European parliamentarian
2016-07-13 20:46

Xinhua Published: 2016-7-13

The award of the South China Sea arbitration solves nothing and the dispute between the Philippines and China can only be solved through bilateral dialogue, a British member of the European Parliament (MEP) said Tuesday.

The arbitration was unilaterally initiated in 2013 by the former Philippine government and its award was issued on Tuesday. China reiterated its stance that it neither accepts nor recognizes the ruling.

"The award is null and void and has no binding force," the Chinese Foreign Ministry said in a statement.

"It is a matter of territorial dispute; I think this issue should not have gone to The Hague," Nirj Deva, vice chairman of the European Parliament's Development Committee and chairman of the EU-China Friendship Group in the European Parliament, told Xinhua.

He noted that sovereignty and territorial disputes are not under the jurisdiction of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea.

The lawmaker said former Philippine President Benigno S. Aquino III made "a wrong decision" to go to The Hague. It broke the country' s own commitment made in the 2002 Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea (DOC).

According to DOC, China and members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) have agreed to settle their regional disputes through consultation and negotiation.

However, by not consulting China about involving a third party, the Philippines walked away from its DOC committments.

By contrast, Deva praised China for abiding by its international commitments.

"On the whole, if you look at China' s history, China has been a very good obeyer of international laws and has kept to all international treaties that it has signed," he said.

It is widely believed that the South China Sea arbitration will only serve to escalate tensions in the region instead of solving disputes. Deva said the award "doesn' t solve anything."

He pointed out that the dispute between the Philippines and China is a bilateral issue, which can only be solved through dialogue and consultation.

Furthermore, he stressed that countries outside the region should respect efforts made by China and ASEAN to safeguard peace and stability in the South China Sea.

The countries meddling in the South China Sea may have concerns about their own interests, in international shipping or aviation. However, the lawmaker stressed there has not been "one single complaint" about any interference from China in international shipping lanes.

"Their concerns are based on hypothetical situations but not on the real facts on the ground," he said.

Noting that the new Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte has expressed the desire to engage in dialogue with China, the senior lawmaker called for the European Union (EU) to play a constructive role in the process.

"Firstly, the EU should not interfere in this matter; secondly, we should encourage as much as we can the two sides to come together to the negotiation table, discussing these matters of mutual concerns and interests."

The EU-China Friendship Group in the European Parliament consists of more than 40 lawmakers from at least seven political groups and more than 20 countries.

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